Iconic N.C. Wyeth painting, a Trenton treasure, continues residence in city

Thomas Edison State College in Trenton has just received an enormous painting by N.C. Wyeth. The painting is regarded as one of  the city’s civic masterpieces.

It only had to travel a few doors down the block.

In the 1920s, the First Mechanics National Bank commissioned Wyeth — at the time a highly sought-after artist — to render an image of George Washington’s victory lap through Trenton after the end of the  Revolutionary War.

In 1930, the work, measuring 12 feet by 17 feet, was hung in the bank’s branch on West State Street.

Since then, the bank has become the property of Wells Fargo, which just moved to a smaller space across the street. The painting is too big for the new location, so spokeswoman Wanda Saez said Wells Fargo loaned the painting to Thomas Edison State College on a long-term basis.

“The college has had intereset in this painting for many years,” said Saez. “We know they will take wonderful care of it, and they realize — as we do — how important this paiting is for the city of Trenton.”

The painting has a clunky title: “Reception to Washington on April 21, 1789, at Trenton on his way to New York to assume the duties of the President of the United States.” The image prominently displays two dates — December 26, 1776, and January 2, 1777 — when Trenton was the site of key victories of the Colonial forces over the British.

TESC vice president John Thurber says the painting is an important piece of Trenton.

“This is George Washington coming back to Trenton on the way to his inauguration, to visit the location of the battles that were absolutely critical to our victory in the Revolutionary War,” Thurber said. “It really was a triumphant procession as he came into Trenton, with lots of crowds of local residents and officials.”

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