John Trumbull, artist

John Trumbull, self portrait.

John Trumbull (1756-1843) was the son of Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull and first cousin of M’Fingall poet John Trumbull. John the artist graduated from Harvard in 1773 and served as an aide to General Washington during the Revolution. In 1784 he went to London to study with the painter Benjamin West.

Trumbull is best known for his historical paintings and engravings which he worked on for the major part of his life. In 1817 he was commissioned by the U.S. Congress to paint four large pictures in the rotunda of the Capitol at Washington, D.C.: Washington Resigning His Commission, The Surrender of Cornwallis, The Surrender of Burgoyne, and, best known of all, Declaration of Independence. These were based on earlier, smaller paintings he had done on the same subjects. The Declaration of Independence appeared on the reverse of the two-dollar bill.

Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull.

Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull.

The letters in the collection at CHS are now available online at Connecticut History Online thanks to a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. The grant is enabling us to digitize manuscripts that had previously been reproduced only on microfilm.

 

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