The First First Lady

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Martha Washington by Michael Deas

In the news today – Michael Deas’s portrait imagining what a young Martha Washington looked like. ("By George, Martha was a hot mama" exclaimed the New York Post.) Commissioned as the cover of Patricia Brady’s definitive biography of America’s first First Lady, the likeness was based primarily on a computer generated age-regression image created at Louisiana State University’s forensic anthropology department. So when photographs and photoshop fail to flatter, we can always go back to the painted image.

Deas is a noted realist painter more in the tradition of Parrish than Wyeth. You’ve seen his work without knowing it as he created the current Columbia Pictures logo as well as recent U.S. stamps commemorating movie stars like Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Marilyn Monroe.

Mount Vernon, the historic home of George and Martha Washington, recently acquired Deas’s portrait of Martha where it will now remain on permanent display.

The more conventional view of Martha.

Left - miniature portrait of Martha Washington, watercolor on ivory, by James Peale, 1796. Right - detail of Deas's portrait.

Deas's logo for Columbia Pictures

Deas's Audrey Hepburn stamp


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