To add credibility to the image, the printmaker added a false credit line claiming that the image was “Drawn from the life by Alexr. Campbell of Williamsburgh in Virginia.” There was no such person as Alexander Campbell living in Williamsburg, Virginia. The inscription on this and two other engravings of Washington are the only record of a painter or draftsman named Alexander Campbell.
On January 31, 1776, Washington wrote to Joseph Reed, the President of Congress, that he had seen the portrait of himself on horseback and commented that the artist “[had] made a very formidable figure of the Commander-in-Chief, giving him a sufficient portion of terror in his countenance.” Washington also declared at another time that he had never seen a Mr. Campbell.
RELATED OBJECT: For another “Washington” portrait issued by Shepherd after a spurious painting by Alexander Campbell of Williamsburg see (MESDA acc. 1094.12)
DESCRIPTION: Mezzotint engraving- 3/4 length portrait of man in Army uniform, including coat, vest, breeches, gorget, one glove, sash, sword and tricorn hat. The man stands with his left hand on his hip, looks off to the right, but points to the left. In the background: left, a battle with some men on horseback and some on foot, and right, bushes.