Posted on December 28, 2021

Brooklyn Museum Adds Slavery Disclaimer to George Washington Portrait

Sean Salai, Washington Times, December 27, 2021

The Brooklyn Museum has added a new feature to its 1776 oil-on-canvas painting of Continental Army Gen. George Washington — a description card that notes his ownership of slaves despite defending the self-evident truth that all men are created equal.

The portrait shows Washington standing in military dress uniform with Boston in the far background. It was painted by Charles Willson Peale {snip}

“Washington enslaved more than 300 people prior to and during his tenure as the nation’s first president,” the card reads in part.

However, the museum’s website description of the portrait does not include any mention of slavery. Instead, it points out that Boston stands in the background because Washington had liberated it from the British {snip}


The description card included with the in-person exhibit makes no mention of Boston or this context for the painting.