Life of Washington

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Life of Washington
ArtistVictor Arnautoff
LocationSan Francisco

Life of Washington is the name of a set of thirteen murals painted by Victor Arnautoff located in San Francisco's George Washington High School.[1] As indicated by their title, they depict George Washington at various real and imagined points in his life. The work was the largest mural by a single artist that the WPA funded.[2]

In June 2019, the San Francisco Unified School District voted to remove the works, citing student discomfort at the violence depicted in the murals.[3] Supporters in favor of preserving the murals say that it presents an alternative to sanitized depictions of American history, as it depicts George Washington walking over the corpse of a Native Americans and presents him with slaves on his estate, Mount Vernon.[4] Arnautoff was "[...] a well known radical" and communist, and he painted other murals considered by some to be controversial.[5]


  1. ^ Pogash, Carol (11 April 2019). "These High School Murals Depict an Ugly History. Should They Go?". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  2. ^ "Life of Washington by Victor Arnautoff". Public Art and Architecture from Around the World. Art and Architecture. 28 April 2019. Retrieved 5 July 2019.
  3. ^ Brinklow, Adam (26 June 2019). "SF school board votes to destroy circa 1936 mural". Curbed. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  4. ^ Tucker, Jill; Wu, Gwendolyn (8 April 2019). "Offensive or important? Debate flares anew over SF school mural depicting slavery". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  5. ^ Gelber, Steven M. (Summer 1979). "Working to Prosperity: California's New Deal Murals". California History. 58 (2): 98–127. Retrieved 26 June 2019.