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1. George Washington’s Birthday: How It Started and Why We Celebrate As the first president of the United States, George Washington’s legacy remains strong in the American consciousness, and his birthday is celebrated in a variety of ways. In this article, readers can learn about the history of Washington’s birthday, how it has been celebrated, and why it continues to be observed today. 2. George Washington’s Mount Vernon Home Now Open For Tours George Washington’s Mount Vernon home is open for tours. This article details the history of the mansion, its restoration, and the various activities that guests can partake in while visiting the home. 3. George Washington: The Greatest American President This article examines the life and legacy of George Washington, highlighting his many accomplishments and contributions to the United States. It also looks at the reasons why he is widely considered to be the greatest American president. 4. George Washington: His Life and Accomplishments This article provides an overview of the life and accomplishments of George Washington. It looks at his service in the Revolutionary War, his presidency, and his role in shaping the United States. 5. George Washington’

Edition for Educators—Portraits in the House Collection | US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives

The House Collection of Art and Artifacts contains thousands of objects which provide glimpses into the history of the institution as well as the rich lives of the tens of thousands of people who have served, worked, and visited the nation’s capital. Painted portraits form the backbone of this collection and represent a long tradition of honoring notable figures in the House’s history. Hundreds of significant individuals—Speakers, committee chairs, and others—are represented in paintings dating back to the 1780s. This month’s Edition for Educators highlights these portraits in the House Collection and the stories surrounding their creation and acquisition.Featured Portrait ExhibitionsPortraits in the House of Representatives This digital exhibition discusses the origins and history of committee chair portraits and other Member portraits the House has commissioned. Although committee chairs make up the largest portion of the portrait collection, additional commissions depicting historically significant figures in House history—including future Presidents, founders, and congressional trailblazers—have continued to expand the House Collection in the twenty-first century.Speaker Portrait Collection The House of Representatives Speaker Portrait Collection is a vital visual record of House history. The Collection is located in the Speaker’s Lobby, just outside the House Chamber, and boasts a significant arrangement of portraits of former Speakers. As noted in the bronze plaque in the lobby, the collection was conceived as a “tribute to their worth to the nation.”Featured Portraits from the House CollectionThis small sample of portraits shows off the range of subjects included in the House Collection. Speakers, committee chairs, and founding fathers share wall space with more recent notable House Members and even foreign dignitaries.More than 300 portraits can be viewed in the Collections Search.Featured HighlightsArtist Gilbert Stuart’s Portraits of George Washington On April 12, 1796, President George Washington posed for artist Gilbert Stuart for the famous Lansdowne portrait that became the basis for two portraits of Washington in the U.S. Capitol. One was painted by John Vanderlyn and the other by an unknown follower of Stuart. Stuart was the foremost portrait painter in the United States at the time, and Washington posed for him for four separate portraits. The resulting paintings became the standard images of Washington.Bay State Day in the House of Representatives On January 19, 1888, the state of Massachusetts presented, with much fanfare, portraits of three former Speakers of the House, transforming the House Chamber into a veritable picture gallery. The three large paintings stood against the Speaker’s rostrum, commemorating Massachusetts Representatives Theodore Sedgwick, Joseph B. Varnum, and Nathaniel P. Banks. They were featured alongside the portrait of Speaker Robert C. Winthrop, which had first been presented in 1882, and was brought out again having been the inspiration for Massachusetts to commission the other three.Speaker Sam Rayburn’s Portrait Leaves the “Board of Education” On January 19, 1962, two months after the death of Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas, the House moved the portrait of the late Speaker from its longtime home in an office on the first floor of the Capitol, to the Speaker’s Lobby, just outside the House Chamber. After spending 20 years in the fabled “Board of Education” room, Rayburn’s longtime gathering place, the Texan’s portrait joined the collection of former Speakers of the House. For decades, Rayburn and other House leaders had met in the Board of Education to socialize and plot strategy.Featured Oral HistoryCalifornia Representative Ron Dellums became the first Black member of the Armed Services Committee in 1973; he went on to chair the committee in the 103rd Congress (1993–1995). In the three videos below, Dellums discusses the process of choosing artist Andre White for his committee chairman portrait and recalls the portrait’s unveiling in 1997.Featured BlogsWashington, Schlepped Here A familiar portrait of George Washington hangs in the Rayburn Room of the Capitol, near the House Chamber. Its location seems to make perfect sense: the capital city bears Washington’s name, he laid the building’s cornerstone, and his likeness is repeated hundreds of times around the city. Nonetheless, the Capitol was never intended to be this painting’s home. This portrait of Washington took a curious path to its current resting place, starting with an American citizen abroad in Spain before eventually arriving on Capitol Hill.Adele Fassett, Washington’s Trendsetting Woman Portraitist With the decision to commission a portrait of then Speaker and former Appropriations Committee chairman Joseph G. Cannon of Illinois in 1904, the House Committee on Appropriations began a tradition of honoring the service of committee chairs with artwork. Cannon, however, was not the first Appropriations chair to have a portrait painted. The story of how the Appropriations Committee eventually ended up with two nineteenth-century portraits of its former chairmen is entwined with the career of the woman who created them, Adele Fassett.The Artist Formerly Known as Fox At 10 different portrait unveilings on Capitol Hill, a man named Charles J. Fox was praised as the artist who captured the sitter’s likeness. Fox didn’t immediately fit the image of an artist in mid-century America—an unkempt genius in a beret and paint-splattered smock. Instead, he looked like a prosperous businessman with a well-tailored suit and receding hairline. Nor did he look like a sophisticated aesthete, although a promotional pamphlet described him as “the son of a well-known Austrian artist whose subjects were European royalty and continental society.” The only problem was that Charles J. Fox was not the artist’s true identity.“The Battle of the Portraits” Newspapers called it “the battle of the portraits.” As many as 16 artists submitted portraits of the late Speaker Henry T. Rainey of Illinois, hoping the portrait commission would select their likeness of the man to hang in the House. The winner would receive a $2,500 commission, which was a substantial sum during the height of the Great Depression. It took two years, a House committee, and some well-targeted insults to resolve the matter.This is part of a series of blog posts for educators highlighting the resources available on History, Art & Archives of the U.S. House of Representatives. For lesson plans, fact sheets, glossaries, and other materials for the classroom, see the website's Education section.