Strong inked outlines, vigorous cross-hatching, stippled patterning, and bright color add a powerful dynamic to this drawing of a woman identified as Martha Washington. A masterful hand with pen and ink, the so-called Sussel-Washington Artist worked in various Pennsylvania counties throughout the Revolutionary War period, creating highly decorative drawings and documents that often feature doll-like human figures with pops of color on their cheeks and wearing old-fashioned clothes. Many Pennsylvania Germans who had immigrated to America while it was under British rule felt torn between the new and old factions. In this and other drawings by the artist, cultural ties to Europe and a respect for European sovereignty, even in the years following the war, are evident in such honorifics as “Lady” and “Excellence” inscribed on tributes to George and Martha Washington. The mounted-equestrian pose may have been inspired by seventeenth-century engravings of European nobility, many published in London by Thomas Jenner and engraved by Willem and Simon de Passe.
Stacy C. Hollander, “Laedy 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.