N. C. Wyeth (1882-1945)In a Dream I Meet General Washington1930Oil on canvas, 72 3/8 x 79 in. (183.8 x 200.6 cm)Brandywine River MuseumPurchased with funds given in memory of George T. Weymouth, 1991
In a Dream I Meet General Washington
In a Dream I Saw General Washington; Washington at Brandywine
Oil on canvas
Lower left: N. C. WYETH / 1930; on reverse, charcoal sketches on canvas; label attached to stretcher (in N. C. Wyeth's hand): In a Dream I Meet / General Washington / Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Richmond, Virginia / First Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Painting 1938; label attached to stretcher (in N. C. Wyeth's hand): Corcoran Gallery of Art 1932-33 / Thirteenth Exhibition of Contemporary American Oil Painting; label attached to stretcher: Brandywine River Museum, Not for Publication
fantasy , portrait , history
The artist; Mrs. N. C. Wyeth to at least 1950; descended in family
Wilmington, DE, 1931, no. 18; West Chester, PA, 1932, no. 50, as "In A Dream I Saw General Washington" (winner of 2nd place award in oil painting category); Washington DC, 1932, no. 207 p. 79, illus. in b/w p. 108; Philadelphia, PA, 1933, no. 92, p. 18; New York, NY, 1933, illus. b/w (unpaginated); Philadelphia, PA, 1935(2); (in 1938 sent to First Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Paintings, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, but not accepted for exhibition); Wilmington, DE, 1946, no. 3; Chadds Ford, PA, 1968, no.13; Chadds Ford, PA, 1973 (1); Chadds Ford, PA, 1976 (2), illus. in sepia on brochure cover; Chadds Ford PA, 1982, no.19; New York, NY, IBM Gallery of Science and Art, "Picturing History: American Painting, 1775-1925," (organized by Fraunces Tavern Museum) Sept. 28 - Nov. 27, 1993, and 3 additional venues (Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Center for Fine Arts, Miami), detail illus. in color p.157, color illus. p. 174 (fig. 120); Chadds Ford, PA, 1995, no. 11, illus. b/w p. 35; Chadds Ford, PA, 1997, no numbers.
Roger Cooper, "Famous Artist Praises Stevenson," The Spotlight, March 13, 1931, p. 4, contains a description of the work in progress; N. C. Wyeth, "Washington in Dream Fights Battle," Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 17, 1932, p. 2 (Editorial Section) and prob. Wilmington Sunday Star (unidentified clipping, collection Delaware Art Museum); "Washington at Brandywine by N. C. Wyeth," Boston Evening Transcript, April 23, 1932; "Art Exhibition Opens To-day with Private View...," (West Chester, PA) Daily Local News, May 14, 1932, ps. 1, 2; "1932 Corcoran Biennial," The Art Digest, vol. VII, no. 5 (Dec. 1, 1932), b/w illus. p. 3; Vylla Poe Wilson, "Capital Art and Artists," The Washington Post, Dec. 4, 1932, A:3; Arthur Stanley Riggs, "The New Corcoran Biennial," Art & Archaeology, vol. XXXIV, no. 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1933), illus. b/w p. 34; Edward Alden Jewell, "Three Winter Shows," American Magazine of Art, vol. XXVI, no. 2 (Feb. 1933), illus. b/w, p. 63; Harvey M. Watts, "The Academy Exhibition," The Philadelphia Forum, vol. 12, no. 6 (Feb. 1933), ps. 9 and 22, also b/w cover illus.; letter, Eric Knight to Paul Rotha, August 8, 1933, published in Eric Knight, Portrait of a Flying Yorkshireman, Letters from Eric Knight in the United States to Paul Rotha in England (London: Chapman & Hall, 1952), p. 37; C. H. Bonte, "That Gifted Wyeth Family Exhibiting at the Alliance," Philadelphia Inquirer, March 31, 1935, p. SO 9; Richard Layton, "Inventory of Paintings in the Wyeth Studio, 1950, " unpublished, Wyeth Family Archives, p. 77; William P. Lear, "Meet the Artist: Christian Brinton / September 17, 1870 / July 14, 1942" printed in The Chester County Artist, vol. II, no. 6 (Sept. 1953); Pete Martin, "The Wyeth Who Doesn't Paint," The (Philadelphia ) Sunday Bulletin, July 3, 1966, illus.; Douglas Allen and Douglas Allen, Jr., N. C. Wyeth The Collected Paintings, Illustrations and Murals (New York: Crown Publishers, 1972), p. 163; Elizabeth Shoumatoff, FDR's Unfinished Portrait (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. 1990), p. 40; Barbara J. Metnick and William S. Ayres, "Picturing History," Antiques, vol. CXLIV, no. 5 (Nov. 1993), illus. in color p. 671; unattributed review of exhibition "Picturing History," American Art Review, vol. VI, no. 3 (June- July 1994), illus. p.152; Mary Edith Hinshaw, unpublished diary (Summer 1934) excerpted in "The Window," publication of W. H. Moring Jr., Arts Center, Asheboro, NC, vol. 1 issue 4 (Fall 1997); David Michaelis, N. C. Wyeth A Biography (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998), ps. 330-332, illus. b/w p. 331; Barbara J. Mitnick, History Paintings, Highlights from the Lafayette College Art Collection (Easton, PA: Lafayette College, 2007), p. 14; Christine B. Podmaniczky, N. C. Wyeth, Catalogue Raisonne of Paintings (London: Scala, 2008), P.33, p. 814, 815
N. C. Wyeth's property in Chadds Ford was not far from the site of the Battle of Brandywine (1777), a proximity that Wyeth, with his lifelong love of history, enjoyed. This painting was the result of an accident Wyeth had in 1930 while executing a mural of George Washington's 1789 reception in Trenton, New Jersey. Atop scaffolding to complete the mural, Wyeth lost his balance and almost fell 30 feet to the marble floor. The shock resulted in a dream that haunted him until he committed the vision to canvas. In that dream, Wyeth watched the Battle of Brandywine unfold before him as Washington narrated. The boy in the lower left corner of the picture is the artist's son Andrew.
In a letter to his brother Stimson, Wyeth wrote "This is the painting that I am certain excells (sic) anything done to date." Although the painting was based on a dream, Wyeth said, "this fact in no way interferes with its abstract attraction as a painting to be engaged for color, pattern, technic and intriguing interest." At least one early account of the painting (Shoumatoff) states that the artist had originally painted himself on the scaffolding "clad in a nightgown." For this painting, Wyeth was awarded the Clark Prize at the 1932 Corcoran Gallery exhibition.