John Trumbull (/ˈtrʌmbəl/; June 6, 1756 – November 10, 1843) was an American artist during the period of the American Revolutionary War and was notable for his historical paintings. He has been called The Painter of the Revolution.
Self-portrait, c. 1802
|Born||June 6, 1756|
|Died||November 10, 1843 (aged 87)|
|Education||with Benjamin West|
|Declaration of Independence (painted 1817–1819)|
Trumbull was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, in 1756, to Jonathan Trumbull and his wife Faith (née Robinson) Trumbull. His father served as Governor of Connecticut from 1769 to 1784. Both sides of his family were descended from early Puritan settlers in the state.
He had two older brothers, Joseph Trumbull, the first commissary general of the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War, and Jonathan Trumbull Jr., who would become the second Speaker of the House of the United States.
The young Trumbull entered the 1771 junior class at Harvard College at age fifteen and graduated in 1773. Due to a childhood accident, Trumbull lost use of one eye. This may have influenced his detailed painting style.
As a soldier in the American Revolutionary War, Trumbull rendered a particular service at Boston by sketching plans of the British and American lines and works. He witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill. He was appointed second personal aide to General George Washington, and in June 1776, deputy adjutant-general to General Horatio Gates. He resigned from the army in 1777 after a dispute over the dating of his officer commission.
In 1780, with funds depleted, Trumbull turned to art as a profession. He traveled to London, where upon introduction from Benjamin Franklin, Trumbull studied under Benjamin West. At West's suggestion, Trumbull painted small pictures of the War of Independence and miniature portraits. He painted about 250 in his lifetime.
On September 23, 1780, British agent Major John André was captured by Continental troops in North America; he was hanged as a spy on October 2, 1780. After news reached Great Britain, outrage flared and Trumbull was arrested, as having been an officer in the Continental Army of similar rank to André. He was imprisoned for seven months in London's Tothill Fields Bridewell.
After being released, Trumbull returned to the United States in a voyage that lasted six months, ending late January 1782. He then joined his brother David in supplying the army stationed at New Windsor, New York during the winter of 1782–83.
In 1784, following Britain's recognition of the United States' independence, Trumbull returned to London for painting study under West. While working in his studio, Trumbull painted Battle of Bunker Hill and Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec. Both works are now in the Yale University Art Gallery.
In July 1786, Trumbull went to Paris, where he made portrait sketches of French officers for the Surrender of Lord Cornwallis. With the assistance of Thomas Jefferson, serving there as the American minister to France, Trumbull began the early composition of the Declaration of Independence. Over the next 5 years Trumbull painted small portraits of signers, which he would later use to piece together the larger painting. If the signer was deceased, a previous portrait would be copied, as was the case with Arthur Middleton, whose head position stands out in the painting. While visiting with each signer or their family, Trumbull, always looking for funding, used the occasion to sell subscriptions to engravings that would be produced from his paintings of the American Revolution.
While in Paris, Trumbull is credited with having introduced Jefferson to the Italian painter Maria Cosway; they became lifelong intimate friends. Trumbull's painting of Jefferson, commissioned by Cosway, became widely known due to a later engraving of it by Asher Brown Durand, which was reproduced.
Trumbull's Declaration of Independence painting was purchased by the United States Congress, along with his Surrender of General Burgoyne, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, and General George Washington Resigning His Commission, all related to the Revolution. All now hang in rotunda of the United States Capitol. Congress reportedly authorized only funds sufficient to purchase these four paintings.
Trumbull completed several other paintings related to the Revolution:
Trumbull encountered hard times in which he was failing to sell his paintings individually; in 1831 he sold a series of 28 paintings and 60 miniature portraits to Yale University for an annuity of $1,000. After many years of trying to create income from his painting, he had finally found a way to sustain himself from his art. This is by far the largest single collection of his works. The collection was originally housed in a neoclassical art gallery designed by Trumbull on Yale's Old Campus, along with portraits by other artists.
His portraits also include full lengths of General Washington (1790) and George Clinton (1791), now held in New York City Hall. New York also bought his full-length paintings of Alexander Hamilton (1805, the source of the face on the $10 bill) and John Jay. In 1791 Trumbull was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
He painted portraits of John Adams (1797), Jonathan Trumbull, and Rufus King (1800); Timothy Dwight and Stephen Van Rensselaer (both at Yale), Alexander Hamilton (one in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and one in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, both taken from Ceracchi's bust), a self-portrait (1833), a full-length of Washington, held at Charleston, South Carolina; a full-length of Washington in uniform, General George Washington at Trenton, (1792, at Yale); and portraits of President and Mrs. Washington (1794), in the National Museum of American History.
Trumbull was painted by Gilbert Stuart and many others.
In 1794 Trumbull acted as secretary to John Jay in London during the negotiation of the treaty with Great Britain, which largely settled the boundary with Canada and began cotton export. In 1796 he was appointed by the commissioners sent by the two countries as the fifth member of a commission charged with carrying out the seventh article of the Jay Treaty, which mediated claims by American and British merchants and the opposing government stemming from actions which occurred during the war. Shortly after the end of Trumbull's service on this commission, he traveled to Stuttgart to pick up the completed engraving of the Battle of Bunker's Hill. On the return trip he passed through Paris and carried the first dispatch from the XYZ Affair out of France.
Trumbull was appointed president of the American Academy of the Fine Arts in New York City, serving for twenty years, from 1816 to 1836. Emphasizing classical traditions, Trumbull did not get along with the students. At the same time, his painting skills declined. In 1825 many of the students withdrew, founding the National Academy of Design. Unable to accommodate to changing tastes, the American Academy later closed in 1839 after a second fire destroyed its collections.
Trumbull wrote his autobiography, which he published in 1841. He died in New York City at the age of 87 on November 10, 1843.
Alexander Hamilton is a 1792 full-length portrait of Alexander Hamilton by John Trumbull. It is one of multiple paintings John Trumbull made of Alexander Hamilton.
In 2013, the painting was donated by Credit Suisse to both New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. According to The Met, the work is considered the "greatest known portrait of Hamilton and one of the finest civic portraits from the Federal period".Declaration of Independence (Trumbull)
Declaration of Independence is a 12-by-18-foot (3.7 by 5.5 m) oil-on-canvas painting by American John Trumbull depicting the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress. It was based on a much smaller version of the same scene, presently held by the Yale University Art Gallery.
Trumbull painted many of the figures in the picture from life, and visited Independence Hall to depict the chamber where the Second Continental Congress met. The oil-on-canvas work was commissioned in 1817, purchased in 1819, and placed in the United States Capitol rotunda in 1826.
The painting is sometimes incorrectly described as the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The painting shows the five-man drafting committee presenting their draft of the Declaration to the Congress, an event that took place on June 28, 1776, and not the signing of the document, which took place later.The painting shows 42 of the 56 signers of the Declaration; Trumbull originally intended to include all 56 signers but was unable to obtain likenesses for all of them. He also depicted several participants in the debate who did not sign the document, including John Dickinson, who declined to sign. Trumbull had no portrait of Benjamin Harrison V to work with, but his son Benjamin Harrison VI was said to resemble his father, so Trumbull painted him instead. As the Declaration was debated and signed over a period of time when membership in Congress changed, the men featured in the painting never were in the same room at the same time.
In the painting, Thomas Jefferson appears to be stepping on John Adams' foot, which many thought was supposed to symbolize their relationship as political enemies. However, upon closer examination of the painting, it can be seen that their feet are merely close together. This part of the image was correctly depicted on the two-dollar bill version.General George Washington Resigning His Commission
General George Washington Resigning His Commission is a large-scale oil painting by American artist John Trumbull of General George Washington resigning his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army on December 23, 1783 to the Congress of the Confederation, then meeting in the Maryland State House at Annapolis, Maryland. The painting was commissioned in 1817, started in 1822, finished in 1824, and is now on view in the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D. C., along with three other large-scale paintings by Trumbull about the American Revolutionary War.Trumbull considered George Washington's resignation as commander-in-chief to be "one of the highest moral lessons ever given to the world".General George Washington at Trenton
General George Washington at Trenton is a large full-length portrait in oil painted in 1792 by the American artist John Trumbull of General George Washington at Trenton, New Jersey, on the night of January 2, 1777, during the American Revolutionary War. This is the night after the Battle of the Assunpink Creek, also known as the Second Battle of Trenton, and before the decisive victory at the Battle of Princeton the next day. The artist considered this portrait "the best certainly of those which I painted." The portrait is on view at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, an 1806 gift of the Society of the Cincinnati in Connecticut. It was commissioned by the city of Charleston, South Carolina, but was rejected by the city, resulting in Trumbull painting another version.George Washington's resignation as commander-in-chief
George Washington's resignation as commander-in-chief marked the end of Washington's military service in the American Revolutionary War and his return to civilian life at Mount Vernon. His voluntary action has been described as "one of the nation's great acts of statesmanship" and helped establish the precedent of civilian control of the military. After the Treaty of Paris ending the war had been signed on September 3, 1783, and after the last British troops left New York City on November 25, Washington resigned his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army to the Congress of the Confederation, then meeting in the Maryland State House at Annapolis, Maryland, on December 23 of the same year. This followed his farewell to the Continental Army, November 2 at Rockingham near Princeton, New Jersey, and his farewell to his officers, December 4 at Fraunces Tavern in New York City. Washington's resignation was depicted by John Trumbull in 1824 with the life-size painting, General George Washington Resigning His Commission, now on view in the United States Capitol rotunda.George Washington (John Trumbull, 1790)
George Washington (also known as Washington and the Departure of the British Garrison from New York City) is a large full-length oil painted by American artist John Trumbull in 1790.
Trumbull's earlier 1790 work, Washington at Verplanck's Point, which he had gifted to Washington's wife Martha, had been very well received. In consequence, Trumbull received a July, 1790, commission from the corporation for the City of New York, led by Mayor Richard Varick, to paint the president's portrait.Rather than beginning anew, Trumbull enormously scaled up the prior work, enlarging it from roughly 30" by 20" to nearly four times the size, 108" by 72". In composition and general character the two paintings are substantially the same, with only the middle background as seen through Washington's horse's legs changed, from a September 14, 1782 review of Continental Army troops he had staged for departing French commander-in-chief General Rochambeau to an idealized vision of Evacuation Day, Washington's return to New York City upon the British departure on November 25, 1783.
This painting is located in the historic Governor's Room of New York City Hall.George Washington (Trumbull)
George Washington is a 1780 portrait of George Washington by American artist John Trumbull which is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The oil on canvas painting measures 36 inches (0.91 m) x 28 inches (0.71 m). It depicts Washington standing near the Hudson River with his servant Billy Lee behind him. West Point can be seen in the distance.
Trumbull painted the picture from memory some five years after serving on Washington's staff during the American War of Independence.
The work is on view in the Metropolitan Museum's Gallery 753.John Trumbull (poet)
John Trumbull (April 24, 1750 – May 11, 1831) was an American poet.John Trumbull Birthplace
The John Trumbull Birthplace, also known as the Governor Jonathan Trumbull House, is a historic house museum on the Lebanon Green in Lebanon, Connecticut. Built in 1735 by Joseph Trumbull as a wedding present for his son Jonathan (1710-1785), the house was a center of political and military strategy during the American Revolutionary War, when Jonathan Trumbull was Governor of Connecticut. It was also the birthplace of John Trumbull (1756-1843), an artist known for his depictions of the war and its people. The house was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.John Trumbull Van Alen
John Trumbull Van Alen (d. August 27, 1857) was an American merchant and diplomat who served as the American Chargé d'affaires to Ecuador from June 5, 1849 to August 1850.Surrender of General Burgoyne
The Surrender of General Burgoyne is an oil painting by John Trumbull. The painting was completed in 1821, and hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D. C.
The painting depicts the surrender of British Lieutenant General John Burgoyne at Saratoga, New York on October 17, 1777, ten days after the Second Battle of Saratoga. Included in the depiction are many leaders of the American Continental Army and militia forces that took part in the battle as well as the Hessian commander Friedrich Adolf Riedesel and two British Army officers: Burgoyne and General William Phillips.Surrender of Lord Cornwallis
The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis is an oil painting by John Trumbull. The painting was completed in 1820, and hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D. C.
The painting depicts the surrender of British Lieutenant General Charles, Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781, ending the Siege of Yorktown, and virtually guaranteeing American independence. Included in the depiction are many leaders of the American troops that took part in the siege.The American Museum (magazine)
The American Museum was a monthly American literary magazine published by Mathew Carey in the late-18th century. The American Museum "shares with the Columbian Magazine the honor of being the first successful American magazine."Carey established the magazine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, using $400 that was given to him by Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette. Carey published a total of 72 issues (twelve volumes) of the magazine—one each month from January 1787 to December 1792. The magazine reprinted significant historical documents of American history and also some original work.
In its first edition, The American Museum republished Thomas Paine's Common Sense. The proposed Constitution of the United States was first published in the magazine. Contributors to the magazine included John Adams, Timothy Dwight IV, Benjamin Franklin, Philip Freneau, Alexander Hamilton, Francis Hopkinson, David Humphreys, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Rush, John Trumbull, George Washington and Noah Webster.
The American Museum had approximately 1250 subscribers, including many of the notable men of the United States. (In the July 1787 edition, Carey included a list of subscribers, which included Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington.) However, many of the subscriptions were credit accounts and the magazine was not profitable. As a result, Carey was forced to stop publication at the end of 1792.The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776
The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776 is the title of an oil painting by the American artist John Trumbull depicting the capture of the Hessian soldiers at the Battle of Trenton on the morning of December 26, 1776 during the American Revolutionary War. The focus is on General George Washington aiding the mortally wounded Hessian Colonel Johann Gottlieb Rall. Nearly 900 Hessians were captured at the battle. It is one of Trumbull's series of historical paintings on the war, which also includes the Declaration of Independence and The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777. The painting is on view at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut.
The artist intended to show the compassion of General George Washington in this painting, as he wrote in the catalogue for his exhibited works at Yale University in 1835:The magnanimous kindness displayed by Washington, on this occasion, offers a sublime example of true heroism, and well deserves to be imitated by all military men. The artist chose this subject, and composed the picture, for the express purpose of giving a lesson to all living and future soldiers in the service of his country, to show mercy and kindness to a fallen enemy,–their enemy no longer when wounded and in their power.The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777
The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777 is the title of an oil painting by the American artist John Trumbull depicting the death of the American General Hugh Mercer at the Battle of Princeton on January 3, 1777 during the American Revolutionary War. The painting was Trumbull’s first depiction of an American victory. It is one of a series of historical paintings on the war, which also includes the Declaration of Independence and The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776.
The artist expressed his great admiration for General George Washington in this painting as he wrote in the catalogue for his exhibited works at Yale University in 1835:Thus, in the short space of nine days, an extensive country, an entire State, was wrested from the hands of a victorious enemy, superior in numbers, in arms and in discipline, by the wisdom, activity and energy of one great mind.
It was a personal favorite of Trumbull himself. When asked by Benjamin Silliman which paintings he would save from destruction in the Trumbull Gallery at Yale, he said this one.Trumbull used the General's son, Hugh Jr., as a model for the painting.The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775
The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775 is an oil painting completed in 1786 by the American artist John Trumbull depicting the death of the American general Richard Montgomery at the Battle of Quebec on December 31, 1775, during the invasion of Quebec, a major military operation by the Continental Army in the American Revolutionary War. The painting is on view at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. It is the second in Trumbull's series of national historical paintings on the war, the first being The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775.The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775
The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775 refers to several oil paintings completed in the late 18th and early 19th century by the American artist John Trumbull depicting the death of Joseph Warren at the June 17, 1775, Battle of Bunker Hill, during the American Revolutionary War. Warren, an influential Massachusetts physician and politician, had been commissioned as a general but he served in the battle as a volunteer private. He was killed during or shortly after the storming of the redoubt atop Breed's Hill by British troops.
The paintings are iconic images of the American Revolution. Trumbull painted several versions, including the one held by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (dated between 1815 and 1831). This was commissioned by the Warren family and passed down through the family before being acquired by the museum. Another, larger version (dated 1834) is held by the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut. Trumbull sold the engraving rights for both this painting and The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775, which resulted in a highly successful subscription release that greatly enhanced his career.The Sortie Made by the Garrison of Gibraltar
The Sortie Made by the Garrison of Gibraltar (also called The Sortie made by the Garrison of Gibraltar in the Morning of the 27 of November 1781) is a 1789 oil-on-canvas painting by American artist John Trumbull. The painting shows a key point in Gibraltar's history when the Great Siege of Gibraltar was undertaken by the Spanish against the British at Gibraltar in November 1781. The Spanish officer Don Jose de Barboza is being given respect as he lies dying. Although left behind by his own retreating troops, he still unsuccessfully attacked the British troops with chivalry.Washington at Verplanck's Point
Washington at Verplanck's Point is a full-length portrait in oil painted in 1790 by the American artist John Trumbull of General George Washington at Verplanck's Point on the North River in New York during the American Revolutionary War. The background depicts the September 14, 1782 review of Continental Army troops Washington staged there as an honor for the departing French commander Comte de Rochambeau and his army.The painting was a gift from Trumbull to the president's wife, Martha Washington, and is now owned by the Winterthur Museum. Trumbull next received a commission from the City of New York and painted a much larger version, George Washington, with a new background, Evacuation Day of New York City, November 25, 1783, the return of Washington and the departure of British forces. It is on display in the Governor's Room of New York City Hall.