"Marquis de Lafayette" Engine Panel Painting

In the nineteenth century, volunteer fire companies often commissioned paintings to decorate their hand-pumped fire engines for parades, competitions, and community events. Sometimes framed with elaborate carvings, they adorned the tall air chamber located at the middle or rear of a pumper. The paintings would often feature patriotic, heroic, or allegorical images to associate the volunteer companies with these lofty ideals.
The panel is attributed to the Lafayette Hose Company of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that was active from 1833-1871. The fact that the painting is circular and small means that it may not have been a fire engine panel, and could have been used for a funeral procession honoring Lafayette after his death. Lafayette was highly respected due to his military service in the Continental Army and the role France played in winning the Revolutionary War. He was greeted with parades and celebrations on his return to the United States in 1824, and many fire companies participated in funeral processions upon his death to honor his contribution to the founding of the nation.
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting, engine panel
date made
artist attribution
Sully, Thomas
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
oil paint (image material)
overall: 7 in x 6 1/2 in; 17.78 cm x 16.51 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Fire Fighting
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Engine Panel Paintings
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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