'Washington Resigning His Commission': Painting removed from Maryland State House for restoration

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - It's one of the most famous paintings in Maryland and has been hanging on the wall in the Maryland State House since 1904.

Painted by Edwin White in 1859, the painting shows General George Washington in the old Senate chamber resigning his commission as commander in chief of the Continental Army.  It was removed from the wall Monday and won't be around for a while.

The painting, "Washington Resigning His Commission," is one of the most important pieces in Maryland's state-owned art collection.

"It was painted between 1858 and 1859 by an artist name Edwin Wright. It was painted in honor of the 75th anniversary of George Washington's resignation as commander in chief of the Continental Army, an event that took place here in the Maryland State House on Dec. 23, 1783," said Mark Schneidman, with the Maryland Department of General Services.

On Monday morning, art restoration technicians began the process of removing the painting off the wall out of the building to a facility that will completely restore the painting and its frame.

"It's been over 30 years since the canvas was conserved and it's been over 50 years since the frame was conserved, so over time dirt, nicotine and environmental changes and just old repairs that have started to fail sort of necessitate this work," Schneidman said.

The painting weighs between 400 and 500 pounds. It was a slow tedious job of lowering the painting off the wall where it was to be taken apart.

"The canvas will be separated from the frame. The frame, I believe, is in four to five pieces. They'll be individually packaged and sent to different conservators for the specific treatment they're going to receive," Schneidman said.

Barbara Ramsay, whose company ARTEX Fine Art Services is doing the restoration, made a quick examination of the painting surface as it was lowered off the wall.

"It looks like it's intact. It's very dusty and there's a lot of old varnish layers sewn on, but the paint itself seems to be intact, so that's good. We'll give it a good assessment and we'll make it look as good as it possibly can, keeping the intention of the artist in mind at all times," Ramsay said.

The painting was placed in a special truck to be hauled off for restoration, which will take a year.

Courtesy: WBAL, NBC News Channel