"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Saturday, November 27, 2021


 This portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette "in uniform of an American major general" by Charles Willson Peale hangs in the Independence National Historical Park, Portrait Collection (Second Bank of the United States) in Philadelphia, PA.

Explore PA history gives us a little of the history of this painting.

As tokens of their mutual admiration, George Washington and Lafayette commissioned portraits of each other from Philadelphia artist Charles Willson Peale. Before Peale sent Lafayette's portrait to Washington's home at Mount Vernon, he painted a bust replica of it for his own museum.  Today, it hangs in the Second Bank of the United States portrait gallery in Philadelphia.

As the Constitution Walking Tour points out that "Lafayette" was not really his name.
Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette was a Founding Father of the United States. Lafayette was born to a fabulously wealthy aristocratic family in Auvergne, France. Though frequently referred to by the name Marquis de Lafayette or simply Lafayette in the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette was not his name, but rather a title of nobility that Lafayette inherited as a small child when his father died while fighting in the War of Polish Succession.
The NPS identifies this painting as  "Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Motier, Marquis De Lafayette by Charles Willson Peale, after Charles Willson Peale, 1779-1780." 


In the outpouring of Francophilia brought on by the first world war, Lafayette became an important symbol and Franco-American friendship.

This picture of Lafayette appeared in a 1918 article entitled "Paying Our Debt to France" which appeared in various newspapers. This one came from The Benson Signal, Benson, Cochise County, Arizona, June 29, 1918.  

Lafayette, The Godfather of American Independence.

And this image entitled The Grave of America's Friend by Winsor McCay -Over There- appeared on the editorial page of The Washington Times, September 01, 1918. 

Digital Yarbs (Cheryl Daniel, a graphic designer who enjoys history, especially U. S. Presidents.) produced this reconstruction of Lafayette's face from Jean-Antoine Houdon's 1785 life-mask.

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