May 13, 2014–January 8, 2017

Genneral Waschington

Artist unidentified Achievers

Southeastern Pennsylvania

c. 1810

Watercolor, gouache, ink, and metallic paint on paper

9 5/8 x 8"

Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York

Gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.35

Photo by John Parnell

Genneral Waschington

German Americans were among the forces organized to fight for independence against British tyranny. Known as the German Regiment and formed from settlers in Maryland and Pennsylvania, they participated in major battles in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. This drawing by an unidentified artist is in the colorful ink-and-watercolor style associated with the Old World tradition of Germanic illuminated documents known in America as fraktur. It is probably based on one of the many images of George Washington mounted on horseback that proliferated after the war, testifying to the president as a military leader and the unifying symbol of the new nation. By inscribing in German “George Washington and the city that was built in his name” and the English words “Congress House” on the facade of a building that resembles both Carpenters’ Hall and Independence Hall—sites of the First and Second Continental Congresses—the artist conflates the removal of government from Pennsylvania to the new capitol of Washington, DC, and the establishment of Congress on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Stacy C. Hollander, “Genneral Waschington,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.