George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Edward Savage, 3 June 1798

From Edward Savage

No. 70 South fourth street Philadelphia
June 3—1798


Agreeable to Col. Biddies order I Delivered four of the best impressions of your Family Print,1 they are Chose out of the first that was printed, perhaps you may think that one two Dark, but they will Change Lighter after hanging two or three months, the fraims are good Sound work, I have Varnished all the Gilded parts which will Stand the weather and bare washing with a wet Cloth without Injury, the likenesses of the Young people are not much Like what they are at present, the Copper plate was began and half finished from the Likenesses which I painted in New York in the Year 1789, I Could not make the aulteration in the Copper to make it Like the Painting which I finished in Philadelphia in the year 1796,2 the portrait of your Self and Mrs Washington, are Generly thought to be Likenesses; as Soone as I got one of the prints Ready to be Seene I Advertized in two of the Papers that a Subscription would be open for about twenty Days within that time there was three hundred and thirty one Subscribers to the print, and about one hundred who had Subscribed Previously, all of them the most Respectable people in the City; in Consequence of its Success, and being generaly approvd of, I have Continued the Subscription: there is Every Probability at present of its producing me at Least ten thousand Dollars in one twelvemonth.

As Soone as I have one printed in Colours I Shall take the Liberty to Send it to Mrs Washington for her Acceptance, I think She will Like it better than a plain print.3 I am Sir with Great Esteem your Obt Humle Servt

Edward Savage

N.B. Mrs Savage Joines me in Respectfull Compliments to Mrs Washington.


2In December 1789 and January 1790, before going to London in 1791, Edward Savage painted two portraits of GW, one for Harvard College and the other for John Adams. See Papers, Presidential Series description begins W. W. Abbot et al., eds. The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series. 17 vols. to date. Charlottesville, Va., 1987–. description ends , 4:286–89, and Diaries description begins Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington. 6 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1976–79. description ends , 5:509, 511, 6:2, 57. It must have been at that time that “the Likenesses [of Eleanor Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis] which I painted in New York in the Year 1789” were done. GW replied from Mount Vernon on 17 June 1798: “Sir, I have been favoured with your letter of the 3d instt and pray you to receive my thanks for your attention in chusing the Prints which you sent to Colo. Biddle, for my use. As Mrs Washington also does for your politeness in presenting her one in colours. We are pleased to hear that the undertaking has succeeded so well. Colo. Biddle, I presume, has paid you for the first four; being so directed. Mrs Washington offers her Compliments to you & Mrs Savage, and I am Sir Your Very Hble Servt Go: Washington” (letterpress copy, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW).

3Savage wrote GW on 17 June 1799 that he was sending the tinted print to Mrs. Washington, and GW on 30 June acknowledged its receipt and extended Mrs. Washington’s thanks for it.

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