In 2021, Circuit Media was selected by the U.S. Department of State for a special effort to shine some light on a prominent painting in its collection. An undertaking for the in-house video production team, composed of four production specialists, who traveled throughout the country and across the Atlantic to produce a 17-minute documentary titled A Peale In Paris: Recovering A National Treasure. The documentary was released on February 19, 2023, in honor of President’s Day.
Despite the impact of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the video team met with members from the State Department’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations’ Office of Cultural Heritage to devise a plan in January 2022. Over the course of the next year, the small but mighty video team visited the Office of Cultural Heritage in Washington D.C.; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia; Western Center for the Conservation of Fine Arts in Wheat Ridge, Colorado; George Washington’s Mount Vernon in Mount Vernon, Virginia; the Center for Research and Restoration of Museums of France; and the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Paris. The team documented the Office of Cultural Heritage’s study of the Washington at Princeton painting. The objective was to determine the painting’s authenticity and initiate conservation efforts on the painting where it resides in the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence in Paris, France.
This is the first documentary-style project for Circuit Media. The video team, led by Circuit Media’s Video and Communications Project Manager Jordyn Lang, was hands-on for the duration of this project from writing the initial proposal to finalizing the completed documentary to be released to the public.
“This is the most unique and exciting project I’ve gotten to work on at CircuitMedia,” said Lang.
The documentary is featured in the New York Times article, Was This Washington Portrait Really by Charles Peale? Experts Took a Look, which describes the painting as a “large portrait of George Washington that has long hung in the baronial Paris residence of the U.S. ambassador to France.”
“It had been left to the government in 1989 by an American arts patron and was described as a painting by Charles Willson Peale, the celebrated patriarch of America’s first artistic dynasty and founder of the nation’s first public museum,” wrote New York Times reporter Ralph Blumenthal.
There are more than 250 culturally significant properties around the world under the purview of the Department of State. The department released a press release about the study to authenticate the painting by Charles Willson Peale titled, Authentication of Washington at Princeton Portrait by Charles Willson Peale at U.S. Embassy Paris Ambassador’s Residence on February 23, 2023.
This documentary was particularly complex for the Circuit Media team as it involved a number of moving parts, site visits and a coordinated effort to provide both English and French subtitles. In spite of the many challenges the team faced, Circuit Media was honored to produce the documentary on behalf of the Department of State’s Office of Cultural Heritage.
“[It’s] the idea that [we] get to do the work we love doing,” said Lang.
The production of the documentary took place over the course of 2022. A conservator from the Office of Cultural Heritage, Lauren Hall, praised the Circuit Media video team, especially Lang’s leadership.
“Bravo for all your work on the documentary!!! The film turned out so well – it looks beautiful, and the story really came together. I continue to be impressed with how successfully you made sense of a very complicated history and project,” said Hall.
Circuit Media understands the significance of this opportunity to share a national treasure with the world, and the video team, under Lang’s guidance, has painstakingly worked to ensure the documentary is accessible and inviting to both the national and international audience.
Lang is optimistic this endeavor will open doors for the team(s) at Circuit Media given the encouraging feedback and impressions on the video. Furthermore, Lang envisions this documentary will provide a “unique opportunity for developing videos for government clients.” Watch the 17-minute documentary here.