2019 loan exhibit

The Pleasure of Your Company: Elegant Entertaining with George and Martha Washington

Presented by George Washington’s Mount Vernon

The 2019 Washington Winter Show Loan Exhibit, “The Pleasure of Your Company,” explores the popular themes of dining, hospitality, and entertaining with the nation’s principal Founding Father. During the four decades of their enduring marriage, George and Martha Washington hosted thousands of dinner guests, whether at Mount Vernon, at the General’s many Revolutionary War headquarters, or at the presidential residences in New York and Philadelphia. Curated by Susan P. Schoelwer and Stephen A. McLeod of George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the display features a wide variety of original objects that vividly illustrate the Washingtons’ personal style of elegant entertaining, including examples of their many porcelain services, beautiful silver that graced their tables, and an expertly-crafted replica of the harpsichord purchased by the General for his step-granddaughter Eleanor (Nelly) Parke Custis in 1793. In addition, commemorative china, decorated with portraits of the Washingtons or views of Mount Vernon, suggests how collectors can bring the Washingtons’ tradition of hospitality into their homes today.  Through a fascinating selection of tablewares, furniture, historic artwork, and compelling personal accounts, this exhibit offers a glimpse of the busy social lives of George and Martha Washington, on their ceaseless stream of household guests and those who served them, and on the ways in which their hospitality illuminates the culture of the early American republic.

Mount Vernon dining room.

George and Martha Washington frequently entertained in elegant style on Mount Vernon’s piazza, as depicted in this 1796 watercolor by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe.