ANNAPOLIS, Md. - One of the most historic paintings from Maryland's state-owned art collection was temporarily removed Monday from the State House for extensive conservation treatment.
The painting, “Washington Resigning His Commission,” shows then-Gen. George Washington in the Old Senate Chamber resigning his commission as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army. The painting, completed by Edwin White in 1859, was originally displayed in the room it depicted, but was moved to the Grand Staircase in 1904, where it remains.
The project is part of the ongoing restoration of the Old Senate Chamber, which is being overseen by the Maryland Department of General Services with assistance from the Maryland Historical Trust and the Maryland State Archives.
"Future generations of Marylanders will continue to visit the State House and learn about its rich history, and we hope they will continue to be inspired by the powerful image of General Washington resigning his commission," said Gov. Martin O'Malley in a statement. "The painting reminds us of George Washington's enduring legacy of leadership, service and citizenship."
It took three days to prepare the Grand Staircase for the de-installation of the painting, which measures 119-by-180 inches (including the frame). Art handlers removed the canvas and dismantled the frame, which was taken out of the State House through one of the historic windows adjacent to the 1772 entrance to the building. A specialty contractor has been hired to remove the window and to re-install it immediately after the painting has been withdrawn from the building.
The goal is to return the painting to as close to its original condition as possible. The project is slated to take about a year to complete
It has been 13 years since the painting was last removed in order to allow the Grand Staircase to be repainted. The last major conservation of the canvas took place back in 1981, but the last major treatment of the frame occurred between 1958 and 1959, during the 100th anniversary of the painting.
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