Historical Highlights

The portrait of Peace (The White Squadron in Boston Harbor)

April 14, 1928
The portrait of <em>Peace (The White Squadron in Boston Harbor)</em> Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
The monumental seascape painting Peace weighs more than 500 lbs.
On this date, after the painting had hung for roughly a quarter century in the Naval Affairs Committee hearing room, the House approved the acquisition of Walter Lofthouse Dean’s Peace (The White Squadron in Boston Harbor). Peace, completed in 1893, came to the Capitol around 1900, after it had been exhibited around the country, most notably at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The artist was a leading American marine painter, and Peace shows both his interest in naval scenes, with its detailed depiction of the “New American Navy,” as well as the influence of his studies in France in the 1880s. The work includes the steel naval ships Chicago, Atlanta, Newark, Yorktown, and Boston, as they appeared in their international debut tour, which began in 1889, and was intended to showcase advances in shipbuilding in the U.S. Navy. Dean infused the scene with impressionistic light and color, particularly in the textural, vibrant blue water, dappled with the reflected pink light from the sky. Peace was well liked by the Naval Affairs Committee, which moved the painting along with the committee when it relocated from the Capitol to the House Office Building. Requests to purchase the work were denied on several occasions due to the high asking price of $15,000. However, by 1928, sixteen years after the artist’s death, his heirs lowered the price to $5,000. This, along with the consensus that the painting had a positive, calming influence on the committee, aided the approval of the painting’s purchase.

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