Permanent Collection

Eastman Johnson (American, 1824 – 1906)

Kitchen at Mount Vernon

c. 1857

Oil on panel
Bequest of Ninah M. H. Cummer
C.0.117.1

In 1857, on the eve of the American Civil War, painter Eastman Johnson visited Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington (1732 – 1799). Johnson painted at least six iterations of the estate’s kitchen before 1865, each showing an enslaved African American woman and small children. Twenty-six slaves remained on the plantation at the time of Johnson’s visit, and his works reflect the degree to which the once-great estate had declined since the president’s death. The year after Johnson’s visit, a group of women organized the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which purchased and restored the property. The plantation remains under their care today.