George Washington has long been a mythic figure in American history.
That mythic status can be attributed not only to his deeds, but
also to the production of hundreds of artists working both during
his lifetime and after his death. Washington has been portrayed
as a soldier, statesman, and god-like figure, as pious, honest,
and a great public unifier.
Students will understand how the production of artists can help
illuminate the American past and how the production of artists can
manipulate perceptions of the American past.
Apotheosis of George Washington, University of Virginia (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/gw/gwmain.html)
from the U.S. Capitol Rotunda (http://www.aoc.gov/cc/capitol/rotunda.cfm);
Apotheosis of Washington (http://www.aoc.gov/cc/art/rotunda/apotheosis/index.cfm)
of Washington (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/PIX/pix_hp.html#W)
1: Read and Select Images
Read the background on George Washington from
The Apotheosis of George Washington, University of Virginia Web
site. Then examine a selection of images of Washington from
all of the Web sites listed above. Choose several that portray Washington
in a variety of guises and personae.
Step 2: Choose
Imagine yourself as a new immigrant to the United States at the
turn of the twentieth century. Choose 4 images to view in chronological
order. How would you interpret Washington and the Washington persona?
As someone with no knowledge of that period, what do these images
tell you about the history of eighteenth-century America?
Present Your Argument
Outline an essay or an oral presentation to accompany
the images you chose, explaining how an early twentieth-century
immigrant would interpret the images, and why.