Mount Vernon (Engraving)

Artist/Maker: Samuel Seymour (active 1796-1823), engraver, after William Birch (1755-1834)[1]

Created: original c. 1801-03; engraved 1804

Origin/Purchase: United States

Materials: stipple and line engraving, color

Dimensions: 32.2 x 40.6 (12 11/16 x 16 in.)

Location: Dining Room

Provenance: The Thomas Jefferson Foundation

Historical Notes: In October 1790, while serving as George Washington's secretary of state, Jefferson made his first of at least six visits to Mount Vernon, Washington's plantation home on the Potomac River.[2] Jefferson visited Mount Vernon for the last time in 1801, two years after Washington's death.[3]

Washington first acquired land at Mount Vernon in 1754. Over the course of thirty years he transformed a one-and-a-half-story farmhouse into the mansion shown in Birch's view. His estate grew to more than eight thousand acres, which were divided into five farms. Washington was keenly interested in agricultural experiments such as crop rotation, which he discussed with Jefferson at Mount Vernon in 1792.[4]

William Birch was an English-born painter who came to America in 1794. He is best known for the City of Philadelphia, a series of engravings published in 1800, to which Jefferson subscribed. Jefferson displayed Birch's view of Mount Vernon in the Dining Room at Monticello; his copy is unlocated.

Footnotes

  1. This article is based on Stein, Worlds, 184.
  2. Jefferson recorded in his Memorandum Book paying "vales," or tips, to servants at Mont Vernon. MB, October 15, 1790; November 12, 1790; October 16, 1791; October 1, 1792; and September 22, 1793.
  3. Thomas Jefferson to Maria Eppes, Washington, January 4, 1801, in Family Letters, 190.
  4. Jefferson to Thomas Mann Randolph, Philadelphia, October 13, 1792. Thomas Jefferson Papers. University of Virginia.

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