A descendent of Warner Washington, a first cousin of the nation's first president, William Dickenson Washington is best-known for such important icons of Southern culture as "The Burial of Latane" and "General Marion and His Men in Pee Dee Swamp". The artist was born in Clarke County, Virginia, then moved in 1834 with his family to Washington, D.C., where his father had secured employment with the post office. Beginning as a draftsman in the U.S. Patent Office, Washington studied painting with Emanuel Leutze in 1851-52 in Washington, and from 1853-56 in Dusseldorf. At the time of his arrival at the German academy, Eastman Johnson was in his second year. While there, the two artists may have made some study trips together, or with Leutze, who traveled extensively. In any case, Washington's portrait and genre style is close to that of Johnson. Whether this developed as a result of their shared experiences and training, or whether Washington consciously emulated the older artist's style, is unknown. Washington returned to the District in 1854 and remained until 1861. A successful portrait and historical painter, he exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the National Academy of Design, and with the Washington Art Association. Washington served as a civilian draftsman during the Civil War and was in England from 1865-66, and New York from 1866-68. He was appointed professor of fine arts at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington in 1869, where he was one of the first art instructors of Washington artist Richard Norris Brooke. He died suddenly in Lexington the following year. He was thirty-six years old.
For more information on this artist or the Southern masterworks in our collection, please visit our gallery website.
This essay is copyrighted by the Charleston Renaissance Gallery and may not be reproduced or transmitted without written permission from Hicklin Galleries, LLC.