19th-Century George Washington Middleton Chromolithographic Portrait in Original Frame

Presented is an original 19th century portrait of George Washington in its original frame. This piece features Washington's likeness in a beautiful chromolithograph portrait, published by Elijah Middleton. Washington appears in a three-quarter pose with elegant dress.

Elijah Middleton is regarded as one of the leading pioneers of chromolithography. Middleton opened his engraving firm in Cincinnati, a growing financial hub during the mid-nineteenth city. As the demand for color printing increased, Middleton and his partner W.R. Wallace shifted from engraving to chromolithographs. They added a third partner in 1860, Hines Strobridge, building a partnership that became the basis for the publishing giant Strobridge & Company.

In 1861, Middleton started his own company as a “Portrait Publisher”. Middleton printed his chromolithograph portraits with "warranted oil-colors.” The resulting prints were beautifully rich in color, closely mimicking original oil paintings. His portrait subjects were both historical, including this highly collectible pair of portraits of George and Martha Washington, as well as contemporary; Middleton published portraits of Ulysses S. Grant, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, and an especially striking one of Abraham Lincoln. Middleton’s run of thirteen “American Statesmen and Heroes” done in quality “oil portraits” is one of the most impressive series of American prints of the nineteenth century.

This piece was based off of Gilbert Stuart's original "Athenaeum" portrait. The Athenaeum portrait, given its moniker for the museum collection it once belonged to, is one of the most famous depictions of the nation's first president that exists today. It was produced as a result of one out of only three sittings that George Washington participated in for Stuart. Stuart began the painting at the request of Washington's wife, Martha, who desired portraits of herself and George to hang at their Mount Vernon estate.

It is recorded that Gilbert Stuart was so impressed with his work on the Athenaeum portrait that he desired to keep it for himself to produce and sell multiple additional Washington portraits. He never completed the portrait, much to the displeasure of Martha Washington, before his death.

Middleton took the liberty of filling in the details in this Athenaeum-inspired portrait. Thus, this portrait is a complete depiction of Washington in formal dress, with accurate facial features, and a completed background coloring.


Overall very good condition on chromolithograph print. Good coloring and no surface wear. Presented in its original 19th century carved and gilt frame.

Framed dimensions: 23” H x 20” W x 2.5” D.

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