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artist, born in Lebanon, Conn., 6 June, 1756; died in New York city, 10 Nov.,
1843, entered Harvard at the age of sixteen, and was graduated the following
year, 1773. As he has said himself, his "taste for drawing began to
dawn early." While at college he studied Brooke Taylor's "Jesuit's
Perspective" and William Hogarth's "Analysis of Beauty,"
and after returning to Lebanon he painted the death of Paulus Emilius at
Cannae. When the Revolutionary war opened, he joined the army as adjutant. His
skill as a draughtsman enabled him to make drawings of the enemy's works at
Boston, and Washington appointed him one of his aides-de-camp. He subsequently
went northward with Gen. Horatio
Gates as adjutant, with the rank of colonel, but on 22 Feb., 1777,
being dissatisfied with date of his commission deputy adjutant-general, he resigned
and resumed his art-studies.
love for military life had not left him, however, and when, in 1778, a plan
was formed for the recovery of Rhode Island from the British, he joined Gen.
John Sul1ivan during the enterprise as volunteer aide-de-camp. In May, 1780,
he sailed for France, whence, after a short stay, he went to London, with a
letter from Benjamin Franklin to Benjamin
West. He was soon arrested for treason, but after an imprisonment of
eight months he was released, on condition of leaving the kingdom, West and John
Singleton Copley becoming his sureties. When the close of the war enabled
him to go again to England in January, 1784, he resumed his studies with
West. He visited Paris in 1785, and there began the composition of his "Declaration
of Independence." After a journey through the countries watered
by the Rhine, he returned to London in the autumn of 1786. During this period
he painted also his "Sortie from Gibraltar." A sketch on paper
of this subject, now in the Boston athenaeum, was made in 1787.
small picture of this he presented to West, and a second one he sold. A third,
finished in 1789, was purchased by the Athenaum at Boston. Another, also
small, was painted for William Sharp to engrave from, and with the key in
Trumbull's autograph is now in Philadelphia. In 1787 and 1789 he was again in
Paris, where he painted the portrait of Thomas
Jefferson. He was commissioned in the summer of 1790, by the corporation
of New York City, to paint a full-length portrait of Washington, and in 1791
he executed a likeness of George Clinton.
These are in the city-hall, New York. Another full-length portrait of Washington,
representing him on the evening before the battle of Princeton, was painted
for the city of Charleston in 1792. But, a picture of Washington as president
being preferred, Trumbull executed a second. The first, now at Yale, was
considered by the artist the best portrayal of him "in his heroic
military character." He also executed in 1794 portraits of Gen. and Mrs.
Washington, in the National museum, Washington, D. C. During this time he
was also collecting a valuable series of portraits for his historical
May, 1794, he returned to England as secretary to John
Jay, and in 1796 he was appointed fifth commissioner for carrying into
execution the seventh article of the treaty of 1794. In June, 1804, he came again to the United States, settling in New York as a
Portrait-painter. At this time were painted the portraits of John Jay and Alexander
Hamilton for the city of New York, and Timothy Dwight and Stephen Van
Rensselaer, which are at Yale. In 1817 he was commissioned by congress to
paint historical pictures for the rotunda in the capitol. The subjects were "The
Declaration of Independence," "The Surrender of
Burgoyne," "The Surrender of Cornwallis," and "The
Resignation of Washington." The pictures were completed in 1824, and
exhibited in various cities. They have been made familiar by engravings
(notably the " Declaration," by Asher B. Durand), and have been the
subject of much criticism.
In 1816-'25 he was president of the American academy of fine arts. He
subsequently projected a new series of historical pictures, but the paintings
remained unsold. He was glad, therefore, to present his works to Yale, in
return for an annuity of $1,000. In this final disposition of his worlds he
made the condition that after his death the entire proceeds of the exhibition
of the gallery were to be "perpetually appropriated toward defraying
the expense of educating poor scholars in Yale college." A fire-proof
gallery was erected by the college, and his pictures were arranged there under
his own direction. On the completion of the new art-school building they were
He removed to New Haven in 1837, but in 1841 returned to New York,
where he remained until his death. Trumbull's fame rests mainly on the four
paintings in the capitol, the "Battle
of Bunker Hill," and "Death
of Montgomery," which two pictures still stand unexcelled in
American historical painting, and on such strong portraits as those of
Washington and Alexander Hamilton. The miniature likenesses in some of his
pictures are at times more successful than his large portraits, His paintings
comprise numerous copies, historical and scripture subjects, and portraits, including,
besides those already mentioned, those of John Adams (1797) ; Jonathan
Trumbull and Rufus King (1800) ; and
Christopher Gore (1800). Several of his works, especially portraits, are in
the New York Historical Society's rooms, the City-Hall, New York, and other
public institutions and private galleries, but most of them are in the gallery
at Yale. There are five portraits of Trumbull -- one by himself, painted in
1833, two by Samuel Waldo and Matthew H. Jouett, of which one is in the old
gallery at Yale, beneath which he is buried, a good cabinet full-length by
George W. Twibill, in the National Academy, and one by Gilbert
Stuart. A bust by Ball Hughes is at Yale. The most interesting account
of Trumbull's life is found in his "Autobiography" (New York,
1841). See also Elizabeth B. Johnson's "Original Portraits of
Washington" (Boston, 1882), and an article by John Durand, in the "American
Art Review" for 1881. William Dunlap's account, though full, is prejudiced
and unjust. Thomas S. Cummings, in his "Historic Annals of the
National Academy," gives a full account of the part Trumbull played in
opposing the formation of that institution. -- Edited
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Trumbull - The Early America Review, Summer 1996
... JOHN TRUMBULL: ARTIST OF THE REVOLUTION. "The greatest motive I had or
engaging in or for continuing my pursuit of painting has been the wish of ...
Trumbull on the Internet
... John Trumbull Posters and Prints. Click on the gallery logo to see available
works by the artist: John Trumbull: Declaration of Independence. ...
... Further reading: Irma B. Jaffe, John Trumbull: Patriot-Artist of the
(Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1975) Helen A. Cooper, John Trumbull ...
Today in History:
... John Trumbull. ... See images of more paintings by Trumbull. Search on John
Trumbull in Touring Turn-of-The-Century America, 1880-1920. ...
Indian Sketches by John Trumbull
... Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982) and The Works of Colonel John
Artist of the American Revolution, revised ed., by Theodore Sizer (New Haven ...
John Trumbull -
Biography, auction records and results, ...
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TRUMBULL - PORTRAIT OF SAMUEL BLODGETT
... with him to use in the Death of General Mercer. See Theodore Sizer, ed. The
of Colonel John Trumbull: Patriot-Artist, 1756-1843, New Haven, 1953. ...
Information about US FDC: 6
John Trumbull: American Artists ...
... Further Information about this issue: To honor John Trumbull (1756-1843),
Patriot and Artist, who recorded many dramatic events of the Revolution ...
Trumbull - Reference Page
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click on the "View/Order" hyperlink to view the image and/or order ...
... Letter from JOHN TRUmBULL, to the Speaker of the House of ... to form a
for the artist, together with the colors, oils, &c., employed by him ...
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... of the American Revolution (1975); Sizer, Theodore, The Works of Colonel
Artist of the American Revolution, rev. ed. (1967); Trumbull, John, The ...
Hall:Gallery:SBC1:Alice Trumbull Mason:Artist
... Alice Trumbull Mason (1904 - 1971). ... Nationality: American Alice Trumbull
one of the ... nonobjective art. A descendant of John Trumbull, one of the great