“The Prayer at Valley Forge” was painted by Arnold Friberg in 1975. He created it as a celebration for the bi-centennial year at Valley Forge. The original version of this painting was actually a portrait orientation and large enough to take up a whole wall. It was also a set of three. The original was a gift to the White House. The second, to be hung in the nation’s capital and the last was given to the Pentagon. Although these are all the locations for the leaders of America, this painting was created for all Americans, in order to tell them of the spiritual foundation that was a major part for the fight for American independence. Friberg shows very clearly Americas first strong ties with religion and spirituality through his painting of “The Prayer at Valley forge”.
Fig 1. George Washington kneeling in prayer during time spent at Valley Forge by Arnold Friberg; The Prayer at Valley Forge; FribergFine Art.com, N/A; March 12, 2014. Friberg effectively uses kairos very effectively in his painting. The moment depicted in this painting takes place during one of the most horrific times during the revolutionary war. America was struggling in the war, defeat after defeat the British had all but beaten us. American troops were starving, freezing, and struggling to stay alive against the harsh Valley Forge Winter. Washington sought guidance at that moment. This is the moment when he discovered that these trials would make his solders, and all of America stronger and determined to continue the fight.
Friberg effectively uses ethos to connect with the viewer. The painting shows a strong built and robust man wearing elegant clothing. The man has a militaristic hat on the ground next to him, and a sword on his hip, showing that he is very high up in rank and is a highly respected military figure. The man’s horse is white and very muscular. The powerful animal gives an intense feel to the viewer and radiates strength. The scenery shows a thick forest in the dead of winter, and a man seeking solitude and seclusion. As the man is praying, his hands are clasped very tightly and he seems to be pleading and beseeching for help. His intensity shows a lot of emotion in this action. Friberg’s use of the distinguished and historic figure, George Washington, creates credibility and helps to deliver his purpose.
Friberg successfully appeals to the veiwers emotions and passions for patriotism and spirituality. Many people will see this painting as a powerful representation of spirituality by the way Washington is positioned and how he is on his knee alone in a dense forest. The emotion of this act is shown through Washington’s posture, intensity, and facial expression. His body is bent over showing humility, his hands are clenched tightly together, and in his face one can see dejection or despair. Along with the somberness expressed in Washington’s face, the winter bareness of the forest gives another level of dreariness. Friberg expresses the pain Washington is experiencing, through his battered and weathered face. The lighting in the painting also adds more to the piece. The light seems to barley be creeping through the trees to show that it is very early in the morning. This light could be seen as it is a new day, and give a feeling of hope, a new light. Overall the emotion expressed in this painting is overwhelming.
Although Friberg has very strong appeals to both emotion and authority, his painting lacks, logical reasoning to help his statement. However, he uses Washington’s figure showing respect through his actions. Kneeling in the cold snow and bowing his head shows he respects and veneration to God. Also, taking off his hat shows that Washington has become humble and meek in is longing and pleading for succor. Washington is respecting an authority which is a common sense the world shares. When a person prays, it is common to remove a hat, kneel and bow their head. Friberg’s use of commonality helps his painting...
Cited: Fig 1. Friberg, Arnold. The Prayer at Valley Forge. 1975. George Washington’s Home, Mount Vernon. www.fribergfinearat.com. Painting. March 12, 2014
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