Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Wordless 53



Look closely at the painting. Make a mental note of everything you see? What is going on here? Who are the people in this little known painting?

Want to see other wordless images? Then head here.

Update 1-14-08: My explantation post is up. Follow the link for my post titled Lobbing Discussion Bombs.

17 comments:

Sharon said...

Interesting picture, where can I find out about it?

EHT said...

Right here...in a day or two. Who do you think it is?

Frumteacher said...

No clue. But they look like a sailor's wife and his son, looking out of the window and waiting for his return. Maybe it's Columbus' wife and son. Although they look quite fancy.

EHT said...

The painting does have something to do with the sea but the people in the picture are not waiting for a sailor to return.

Use the clothing to determine a time period.....

Mike said...

Looks like 18th century from the clothes... It seems to me the woman--mother?--knows the man--son?--is going to leave and she wants to stop him.

Mike

The Tour Marm said...

I'll have to do some research, but it just reminds me of the second Mrs. Washington telling her son, George, that she doesn't want him to accept the commission, offered by his older half brother Lawrence, to go into the Royal Navy. (She didn't want him to go into the army, either.)

Mrs. Washington was overbearing and overprotective.

Hercules Mulligan said...

I think the Tour Marm is right in saying that this portrays George Washington's mother dissuading him -- at the very last minute -- not to join the Royal Navy. The man in the picture is wearing a sailor's uniform, and Washington was a tall lad with red hair. And yes, those are 18th century clothes.

I think that it would be wrong, however, to label her a overbearing and overprotective. If anything, America can thank God that she persuaded him not to join the Navy; otherwise we would not have a George Washington to speak of! As for her not wanting him to join the army, I think all mothers can sympathize, especially when odds are that the Americans would lose the Revolution, and Washington, as an outcome of that, would be hanged (or worse).

Hercules Mulligan said...

To correct my grammar: " ... especially when odds WERE"!

Sorry 'bout that.

Oh, and
P.S. EHT, I am honored to find my blog linked here on yours. Thanks. I linked to yours on mine.

The Tour Marm said...

Dear Hercules,

Au contraire!

In my neck of the woods (Alexandria as well as Westmoreland County Virginia) Mary Ball Washington is often derided for her heavy-handed ways. In fact, she had been described as, 'shrewish' by a NPS guide at Wakefield. It was also rumored, by many of my learned Virginia cousins, that the only escape from his wife that George Washington's father had, was death, which he gladly accepted!

Young George Washington was purposely separated from his mother by Laurance. In my opinion, we should thank Laurence Washington, far more than Mary Ball, for the attention he took to educate his brother, both academically and as a gentleman. Laurence also helped to secure the patronage of Lord Fairfax and other influential friends.

I agree with you concerning the turn of fate for this nation; sometimes the right thing is done for the wrong reason. Laurence was being very generous to his young half brother by offering him a chance at a commission in the Royal Navy, and then the army. George was not initially in line to inherit much and that was one of the few ways that a penniless or middle class gentleman could support himself and make a mark for himself.

By the way, he wanted to join the army well before the French and Indian War.

And where I sit in Alexandria, Virginia, I walk the streets that this young surveying apprentice helped to plan after he temporarily gave up on his ideas of a military career until he reached his majority and joined the army at the outbreak of the French and Indian War.

Hercules Mulligan said...

"In my neck of the woods (Alexandria as well as Westmoreland County Virginia) Mary Ball Washington is often derided for her heavy-handed ways. In fact, she had been described as, 'shrewish' by a NPS guide at Wakefield."

Who in your neck of the woods is using this description?

"It was also rumored, by many of my learned Virginia cousins, that the only escape from his wife that George Washington's father had, was death, which he gladly accepted!"

First: rumors are not evidence. Second: I didn't know Washington's father CHOSE death; I thought he just died of illness. And if he wanted to get away from her, why did he marry her in the first place?

"Young George Washington was purposely separated from his mother by Laurance." Purposefully? Well, I think it was pretty normal for Washington to be taught "how to be a man" by his older brother, since Washington's father was dead and Washington's mother could not have done it of course. I am not aware of anything in Washington's writings that indicates that he thought his mother overbearing -- on the contrary. Even in adulthood,when he moved into Mount Vernon, he persuaded her to leave Ferry Farm and live with him, which she did until she passed away.

She certainly was a strong-willed woman, and she had a temper (I think Washington took after her a bit in this regard). One man wrote that he was more afraid of her than he was of his own parents, but such could mean that she was a very commanding figure, but not necessarily overbearing.

I am not aware that Washington himself thought she was such.

The Tour Marm said...

Dear Hercules,

The remark about George Washington's father choosing death was a joke that had been handed down to me by various cousins. It was meant to bring a slight chuckle, but indicates that the marriage was perhaps not the most harmonious.

By the way, there are lots of people who marry, and after a while, wonder why! And many times people married for wealth, land, and bloodline, and because there wasn't a great pool to choose from. (That's why there was so much intermarriage amongst families.) Love wasn't always a factor.

Many people in Westmoreland and Lancaster Counties have strong connections (they're related) to the Washington family (ours is no exception)and stories have circulated amongst them based on unpublished letters, journals, and yes, gossip.

In 1774, George Washington sold Ferry Farm to his good friend, Hugh Mercer (who was to die just three years later as a result of his wounds from the Battle of Princeton).

Mary Ball did not move to Mount Vernon. She lived near Kenmore to be closer to her daughter. She is buried near Kenmore, but separate from any of her children, at a place where she used to like to 'meditate'. It is rather curious that she was not included in the family plot of any of her kin, nor did she live with any of them, which is also counter to the norm of the day. If she had lived at Mount Vernon, I would have expected that she would have been buried there.

There are many monuments to Mary Ball Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she lived from 1772until her death in 1789. One can still visit her home as well as the foundations of Ferry Farm.

This is from the Ferry Farm website:

In 1754, George moved to Mount Vernon while his mother, Mary Ball Washington, stayed on at the farm until 1772, when she moved to town.

The Tour Marm said...

I need to make a clarification and add some information from the APVA site.

Clarification:
Mary Ball moved to Fredericksburg, which was within walking distance, because most of her friends etc. were there, including her daughter Betty.

APVA:
In 1772, George Washington purchased a house from Michael Robinson in Fredericksburg, Virginia for his mother. Mary Ball Washington spent her last seventeen years in this comfortable home. The white frame house sits on the corner of Charles and Lewis Streets and was in walking distance to Kenmore, home of Mary's daughter Betty Fielding Lewis.

Also, don't totally discount oral history in research.

Frumteacher said...

Yay for the tour marm. I think she is right. I was stupid to mention Columbus, since the clothing and furniture are obviously 18th century.
Can't wait to hear the story eht!

EHT said...

Frumteacher, please remember there are no stupid answers in a history classroom. :) If you look back through my wordless entries and examine the comments you notice that they usually run the same gamut as answers in our classroom. Every answer is important and every answer moves us along in the journey.

I'm glad you had a converation without me...all of the comments are very interesting and I will take up some of the points made in my upcoming post.

The painting is titled "Call to the Sea" by Jean Ferris. The subjects are indeed a young George Washington and his mother Mary Ball Washington.

I've been a bit busy of late writing and compiling a paper (close to 300 pages and over 50 scholarly sources)for yet another piece of paper that tells folks I'm an expert at something. I've been squirreled away in my bedroom for the last five days surviving on meager bits of food my family has thrown at me and reruns of Frasier and Will and Grace to get me through....The project has been bindered and forwarded to Mr. Professor for final judgement. I'm exhausted but hope to get back to regular blogging tomorrow. I've been waiting for this moment for the last twenty months and now that it's here the thought that I don't have any coursework looming over my head is quite a surreal feeling.

The Tour Marm said...

As you know, I haven't updated my blog because of three projects I am currently involved with, so I totally understand where you are coming from and marvel that you are able to contribute so much!

Here's some more research on Mary Ball:

Col. George Eskridge was selected by Mary Hewes to be the guardian of her daughter, Mary Ball, who became in turn the mother of George Washington. By Eskridge family tradition, Mary Ball Washington named her son out of devotion to George Eskridge.

Yeocomico Church was her parish church. (My family gave land for that church and it still sits on the edge of our land; it is also my parish church.)

She became better acquainted with Augustine Washington in London! (Today, Sandy point is 31 miles by car from Popes Creek, much less by boat, and even by colonial travel standards when people visited one another often and for long periods of time, it is interesting that they did not know each other better.)

She was widowed at the age of 35 managing to bring up her four children and run a 600 acre estate! She never remarried.

She was a Tory and was uncomfortable with young George's republican ideas. She never praised or mentioned his accomplishments, just that he was a, "good boy". She was a faithful Christian and in complete communion with the Church of England. (There has been debate concerning George Washington's theology and connection to the C of E and PECUSA in a previous EHT post.)

The relationship between her son and herself was indeed strained, due to various philosophical differences as well as the amount of financial support he gave her in later years.

My opinion is that young George preferred to leave rather than stay to help his mother with the management of his future property, as well as taking care of his younger siblings. As someone who comes from a family where the land was entailed to the eldest son, and cognizant of the time and effort expended by my family to teach my brother and my nephew how to run an estate, it seems interesting that he did not initially want to stick around and take more interest in his responsibilities. Perhaps Mary Ball pointed this out to him.

George, no doubt, saw all those ships coming to and from foreign ports and wished to get away. Lawrence served under Admiral Vernon and was a minor hero. Many young sons entered into the Navy, apprenticeships, trades,and other educational opportunities, before the age of 14, so it was not unusual for a young lad to leave home well before that age. While his own mother traveled to London, Washington, never did. I think that he got as far as the Caribbean (where I think he contracted smallpox).

But Hercules does have a point concerning how our history was changed by her decision. We are fortunate that he became a surveyor and traveled all over Virginia (up to present day Ohio) learning the topography; this served us (the good guys) well during the Revolution.

But I think Washington was always the cream that would have risen to the top, regardless of his path.

teachergirl said...

I remember hearing (growing up in Alexandria) that George Washington's father escaped marriage from Mary through death. Harsh? Maybe. Humorous. Absolutely.

EHT said...

Thanks for all the great comments and extra information. My explanation post is finally up with lots of links to great Washington biographies, other scholarly sources, and even some of George Washington's letterbooks.