The Lost Daguerreotype of George Washington (Color)


Giclee print on archival Kodak Professional Endura Premier Lustre paper. Signed with Certificate of Authenticity.


“The Lost Daguerreotype of George Washington” (Color)

New signed art print based on the life mask of George Washington. Frame is part of the photo. This is an art print, not an actual daguerreotype.

Starting with a high-resolution photograph of the George Washington life mask created by Jean-Antoine Houdon (1741 –1828); combined with meticulous research into eye color, hair style and color, eyebrows, complexion, etc.; and the magic of Adobe Photoshop this resultant image takes the viewer back to that day in 1785! In this image, after years of leading his country’s successful war for independence and now deeply enmeshed in the fledgling nation’s struggle to form an effective government Washington shows the burden of leadership. Gazing into his face one cannot help but to wonder what great national trial or tribulation was weighing on his mind that day.

Before photography, life masks were the best way to give us an exact likeness of their subject. Plaster would be applied to the head and sometimes upper torso to create a mold from which a life mask (cast bust) of the person would be created. In addition to being three-dimensional, the faithful transfer process of the life mask creation eliminated the “artistic license” and “sympathetic treatment” employed by many contemporary portrait artists. Thus, using life masks, I am able to complete a forensic/academic study of how the subjects most likely appeared using Adobe Photoshop to add flesh, hair, and other details.

George Washington Life Mask

Jean-Antoine Houdon visited Mount Vernon on October 2, 1785 and stayed with Washington for two weeks. “During his two-week stay, Houdon followed Washington around, observing his posture and expression. He also took detailed measurements of his body and created the life mask to serve as a model for Washington’s face. He applied grease to Washington’s skin, put quills in his nostrils so he could breathe, and then covered his face with wet plaster. This impression created a mould that, once dried, could itself be filled with plaster to create a positive image of Washington’s face. Because Washington necessarily had his eyes closed, Houdon had to hollow out the pupils of the plaster mask to give the face a life-like expression.”
“Washington’s diary entry from October 10, 1785, indicates that he was fascinated by the process, and thoroughly documented the materials and method by which the plaster was prepared that day.”

“In the servant’s hall adjacent to the Mansion, the General had laid down on a wooden table. His hair was pulled back, covered by a towel, while a large sheet protected his clothes. Oil was generously applied to his face, so that the hardened plaster of the mask would not adhere to his skin. Two large quills were placed inside each of the General’s nostrils to ensure he could breathe.”

“Houdon took the mask back to Paris with him and used it to create the likeness of a final statue, which was erected in Richmond in 1796. Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, and many of Washington’s relatives praised the statue as the most lifelike representation of Washington that had ever been made. By 1796, General Washington had become President Washington, and was just finishing his second term. He had become, if possible, even more famous than he had been in the 1780s, and Houdon’s statue drew national attention.”

About Your Print:

Your print comes with a certificate of authenticity and was made by a commercial printing service using archival Kodak Professional Endura Premier Lustre paper. My signature on the back is signed with an archival acid free ink pen and the blue logo stamp uses archival acid free ink.

Your print will last as long, if not longer than silver halide photographs under the same conditions. If you display your print in a frame under glass or acrylic board, try to avoid hanging in direct sunlight as the color may fade over time, as do traditional photographs.

This is a new ready-to-frame print. (FRAME NOT INCLUDED)

Prints ship with 1-5 business days via USPS First Class Mail. Free U.S. Shipping.

Additional information

Print Size

5×7, 8×10, 11×14, 16×20