"Washington at the Battle of Trenton" Engine Panel Painting

"Washington at the Battle of Trenton" Engine Panel Painting

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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.
This engine panel painting is attributed to the Washington Fire Company No.14 of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that was founded in 1796. Originally organized as a hand engine company, it acquired a steam fire engine in 1858 and operated as a steam fire engine company until 1871 when Philadelphia’s paid firefighting department was established. John A. Woodside completed this oil painting in 1853, copying it from “George Washington Before the Battle of Trenton,” painted by John Trumbull in 1792. The painting depicts Washington surveying the battleground, with Continental troops in the background. The volunteer fire company named itself after Washington and commissioned the painting to link itself with Washington’s prestige America’s foremost Founding Father.
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting, engine panel
date made
Trumbull, John
Washington, George
Woodside, John Archibald
Place Made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
oil paint (image material)
overall: 37 1/2 in x 26 1/2 in; 95.25 cm x 67.31 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Cultures & Communities
Engine Panel Paintings
Firefighting Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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