Arlington Spring
By Mrs. Elizabeth Moorereid of Georgetown
c 1850

This was painted at the request of George W.P. Custis, sometime before his death in 1857.

Arlington Spring was a fresh water spring on the Arlington Estate near the Potomac River.  It had been used by Native Americans for centuries before the arrival of Europeans. Washingtonians made the spring a popular picnicking ground. George Washington Parke Custis, seeing the potential of the Spring, built a kitchen, dance pavilion and other buildings for picnickers. The Spring became the symbol of Custis’s hospitality as he often hired musicians to play there for his guests, and would even fiddle for them himself with his violin.

Custis held sheep shearing contests at the Spring to promote American agriculture and animal husbandry. He often pitched George Washington’s Revolutionary War tents there for festivals. Over the years, tens of thousands visited the Spring, a tradition that ended with the Civil War.

Oil on wood. L 57.5, W 45 cm
Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, ARHO 1883