of scenes from the Revolutionary War period
John Trumbull was born in
Lebanon, Connecticut, on June 6, 1756, the son of
Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut. He
graduated from Harvard College in 1773, and
served as second aide-de-camp to General George
Washington during the early years of the
Trumbull went to London in
1780, where he intended to study under American
painter Benjamin West. Unfortunately for him, his
arrival in London coincided with the arrest and
execution of Major John André, a
British soldier in America who had been convicted
of spying against the United States while serving
as a deputy adjutant general. Because Trumbull
had been an officer of similar rank in the
Continental Army, British authorities decided to
retaliate by having Trumbull arrested; he was
held for a total of seven months before finally
being released and sent back to America.
Returning to London in 1784, Trumbull
was able to resume his study under West, who
convinced him to paint scenes from the
Revolutionary War. Trumbull's "Battle of
Bunker Hill" and "Death of
Montgomery" are two of the most well-known
paintings from this period; both of them are now
owned by the Yale School of Fine Arts. In 1785
Trumbull went to Paris, where he made portrait
sketches of French officers for "The
Surrender of Cornwallis," and began work on
"The Signing of the Declaration of
Independence." Both of these paintings,
along with "The Surrender of Burgoyne"
and "The Resignation of Washington,"
were bought by the United States government and
placed in the Capitol.
Trumbull also painted portraits
and miniature portraits of notable figures of his
day, including George Washington, George Clinton,
Jonathan Trumbull, Rufus King,
and Alexander Hamilton. Trumbull himself was painted by other
contemporary artists, including Gilbert Stuart.
Failing eyesight made
Trumbull's later years difficult. He died in New
York on November 10, 1843.
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