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The Cover |

Washington Under the Council Tree, Coryell's Ferry, Pennsylvania

M. Therese Southgate, MD
JAMA. 2008;300(1):14. doi:10.1001/jama.300.1.14.
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Perspective, one might safely say, lies in the eye of the beholder. Or does it? Sometimes, as in the case of the so-called naive or self-taught painters—Henri Rousseau in France, Edward Hicks in American, for example—it lies in the heart (JAMA covers, April 19, 2006, and March 7, 2007). It was not the object closest to the painter's eye that was made the largest and most prominent on the canvas, but that closest to the artist's heart. The 20th-century American naive painter Joseph Pickett (1848-1918) demonstrates this nicely in his monumental (and patriotic) Washington Under the Council Tree, Coryell's Ferry, Pennsylvania (cover). Despite the imposing figure of George Washington on his distinctive white charger in the foreground, it is actually the tree we are commanded to contemplate. (It should be noted that indeed in this case the tree is closest to the eye and thus has a basis for being the largest object in the work; however, in relation to the other objects in the painting, it is disproportionately so. In relation to the tree, the figure of Washington is, in fact, dwarfed.)

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Joseph Pickett (1848-1918), Washington Under the Council Tree, Coryell's Ferry, Pennsylvania, circa 1914-1918, American. Oil on canvas. 87.6 × 96.5. Courtesy of The Newark Museum (http://www.newarkmuseum.org/), Newark, New Jersey. Photo credit: The Newark Museum/Art Resource, New York, New York.

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