A painting commissioned by the Pennsylvania National Guard, and slated for display at the Pa. National Guard's Joint Force Headquarters at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., entitled "Washington's Review" by artist Larry Selman of Waynesboro, Pa., was unveiled at the National Constitution Center here Dec. 6.
The 60 by 30-inch image depicts Gen. George Washington assessing the 1st City Troop of Philadelphia June, 1775. The painting illustrates Washington returning the salute from the artillery officer while the enlisted men are at present arms as the officers pass by in review. The unveiling of the painting occurred not far from where the actual event took place.
Selman said he painstakingly conducts research before applying paint to his canvas, in order to provide not only a beautiful piece of artwork, but also an accurate account of history.
"(To create this painting it took) six weeks of 12-hour days, seven days a week," said Selman, who grew up in a military family. "But the research part is the big horse to tackle first because everything has to be right." For Selman, accuracy is paramount in his artistic depiction of historical events--specializing in military themes.
Presented during a celebration of the Pennsylvania National Guard's 267th birthday, Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig, Pa. National Guard adjutant general, took a moment during the event to recount the inception of the Pa. National Guard.
"This is a great day in Philadelphia," said Craig. "I assure it would be very difficult for even someone as farsighted as Benjamin Franklin (to envision that) his small band of 700 (early militiamen) who (were) there with their own rifles and muskets, in uniforms they had paid for or sewn themselves, could possibly grow into the large and powerful force that is today's Pennsylvania National Guard--almost 20,000 strong."
Craig compared the sacrifice of the early Pennsylvania militiamen, called Associaters, to that of members currently in the Pa. National Guard. He acknowledged that both are groups comprised of ordinary people called upon to execute extraordinary acts in order to preserve freedom.
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin, 1759.
After Craig's speech, the painting was unveiled.
Selman is noted as one of America's foremost historic artists, as well as for his attention to detail and authenticity. His body of work is comprised of capturing military scenes from the Revolutionary War to current military engagements.
"This picture depicts an event that happened 239 years ago, a lot has changed since then," said Selman. "The interesting part about this is that 239 years from now, this picture will still be here."
Selman continued by stating that each painting is comprised of mini portraits, with research done on everything from the style of clothes worn and weaponry used, to how people would be positioned, to the correct landscape of the time and place. He explained that after conducting research, he obtains the correct clothing, equipment and people to serve as models in order to construct the original picture. Even body language and the emotional affect of individuals during the time the painting is portrayed are considered.
"When a picture is completed, if it's wrong you have to defend it, it will always be wrong," he said to the audience. "But if it's right, you'll never have to defend it."