Washington Forever

Pearlware punch bowl detail, 1959.777Punch bowl commemorating George Washington
Staffordshire, England; 1776–1800
Pearlware punch bowl, 1959.777Earthenware (pearlware)
Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1959.777

This English punch bowl, made during the Revolutionary War or fairly soon thereafter, illustrates the “all’s fair” approach taken by merchants and consumers on either side of theAtlantic. It is a fitting tribute to Washington, who continued to be referred to as “General” throughout his life.

General Washington in his Last Illness print, 1959.46.2


G. WASHINGTON in his last Illness attended by Doc.rs Craik and Brown
Pember and Luzarder (publishers)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 1800–1805
Ink, watercolor on wove paper
Museum purchase 1959.46.2

Following Washington’s death, on December 14, 1799, hundreds of commemoratives were created for the grieving American populace. In this print, the hero is shown on his deathbed being cared for General Washington in his Last Illness print, 1959.46.2by doctors. A decanter with a “Port” label hug around the neck sits on a nearby table, for medicinal use. 

Below, a rhyme laments,

Americans behold & shed a grateful Tear
For a man who has gained yo.r freedom most dear
And now is departing unto the realms above
Where he may ever rest in lasting peace & love. 


Porcelain cider jug, 1963.822Cider jug commemorating George Washington
Jingdezhen, China; 1800–1820
Inscribed “ET”
Bequest of Henry Francis du Pont 1963.822a,b

This elegant vessel, like many jugs made around 1800, was part of a matched pair. The hand-painted portrait of George Washington includes fine “hatched” lines, indicating that the Chinese craftsman who made it was replicating a print. In this case, the print was David Edwin’s engraving, created in Philadelphia after a painting by Gilbert Stuart. The “ET” initials refer to Philadelphia lawyer Edward Tilghman, who received the jug as a gift from his uncle, successful China Trade merchant Benjamin Chew Wilcocks.

Glass tumblers, 1957.76.2, .1Glass tumblers detail, 1957.76.2, .1
Tumblers commemorating George Washington and Benjamin Franklin

Bakewell, Page & Bakewell factory
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; about 1825
Glass (lead, sulphide)
Inscribed “MAS”
Gift of Nellie B. Kelly in memory of Hugh Williamson Kelly 1987.128; Museum purchase 1957.76.1

Tumblers, sometimes made as a part of sets that included decanters and wineglasses, were used to serve brandy and other alcoholic beverages. The ones shown here are decorated with silvery-looking “cameo incrustations,” or “sulfides,” which were inserted into glassware during formation. The Bakewell factory also created incrustations honoring Lafayette, Andrew Jackson, and other popular heroes and performers. The engraved “MAS” represents the name of the original owner.

Stoneware bottle or jug, 1961.162Jug commemorating George Washington
Stoneware bottle or jug detail, 1961.162United States; 1810–40
Stoneware (salt glaze)
Museum purchase 1961.162

Although this low-market vessel might have held a variety of liquids, the toast-like inscription on the side suggests it was used for alcohol. Notice that rather than our first president, the relief image portrays Christ, further deifying America’s favorite hero, George Washington.

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