"Washington at Yorktown" Engine Panel Painting

"Washington at Yorktown" Engine Panel Painting

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Description (Brief)
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 panel is probably not an authentic engine panel. It purports to be painted by Charles Peale Polk in 1805, but paint analysis dates it around early 20th century. The painting is a copy of John Trumbull's painting "The Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown." This painting’s companion piece can be seen in object 2005.0233.0318. Panel paintings of Washington would have had significance to volunteer company’s named after Washington, but because of this paintings late date, it is unlikely that it was ever in use as an engine panel in an active volunteer company.
Currently not on view
Object Name
painting, engine panel
date made
after 1871
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
oil paint (image material)
overall: 30 1/2 in x 20 in; 77.47 cm x 50.8 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of CIGNA Museum and Art Collection
Fire Fighting
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Fire Fighting and Law Enforcement
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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