George Washington Papers

[Diary entry: 3 October 1789]

Saturday 3d. Sat for Mr. Rammage near two hours to day, who was drawing a miniature Picture of me for Mrs. Washington.

Walked in the Afternoon, and sat about two Oclock for Madam de Brehan to complete a Miniature profile of me which she had begun from Memory and which she had made exceedingly like the Original.

John Rammage (1763–1802), a skilled miniature painter and silversmith, had been a lieutenant in the Royal Irish Volunteers in Boston in 1775 and subsequently served in the British army in Halifax and New York, where he settled after the Revolution. Rammage, an Irishman, was “a handsome man of the middle size,” a contemporary noted, who “dressed fashionably . . . a scarlet coat with mother-of-pearl buttons—a white silk waistcoat embroidered with colored flowers—black satin breeches and paste knee buckles . . . a gold-headed cane and gold snuff box, completed his costome” (DUNLAP description begins William Dunlap. History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States. 3 vols. 1834. Reprint. New York, 1965. description ends , 1:267–68). Rammage’s debts eventually forced him to flee to Canada where he remained until his death. The miniature Rammage was working on today was probably the Betty Washington—Stabler miniature, painted on ivory (see EISEN description begins Gustavus A. Eisen. Portraits of Washington. 3 vols. New York, 1932. description ends , 2:487).

The marquise de Bréhan and the comte de Moustier, who had visited GW at Mount Vernon in 1788 (see entry for 2 Nov. 1788) now lived in the Macomb House on Broadway, soon to be occupied by GW. Both Moustier and his sister were widely unpopular in the United States. “We have a French minister now with us,” John Armstrong complained, “and if France had wished to destroy the little remembrance that is left of her and her exertions in our behalf, she would have sent just such a minister: distant, haughty, penurius, and entirely governed by the caprices of a little singular, whimsical, hysterical old woman, whose delight is in playing with a negro child, and caressing a monkey” (GRISWOLD description begins Rufus Wilmot Griswold. The Republican Court or American Society in the Days of Washington. New York, 1855. description ends , 93; see also John Jay to Jefferson, 25 Nov. 1788, JEFFERSON [1] description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 14:291). The marquise was a skilled miniaturist and had worked on a portrait of GW on her visit to Mount Vernon in 1788. She may have begun the work from one of Houdon’s busts in Paris, and continued it at her visit to Mount Vernon and at this sitting. “Her painting was in cameo-relief in blue, white, and black, and looks like carved reliefs, though painted profiles. She made a number of copies” (EISEN description begins Gustavus A. Eisen. Portraits of Washington. 3 vols. New York, 1932. description ends , 2:454–55, 591–92).

Index Entries