Connecticut artist John Trumbull was an old man when he produced his iconic painting showing the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Trumbull was born in Lebanon, Connecticut in 1756 and was the son of Connecticut’s governor Jonathan Trumbull. Young Trumbull served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War from 1776 to 1777, part of that time as a personal aide to George Washington. He therefore knew many of the men in his famous painting. The original painting, completed in 1818, hangs in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. A smaller version was one of the main attractions at the Wadsworth Atheneum, when it opened in 1844. Located in Hartford, Connecticut, the Wadsworth Atheneum was America’s first public art museum. The Kellogg brothers’ lithography business was located right across the street. It’s tempting to think that they might have based their 1845 lithograph directly on Trumbull’s painting. I like to imagine the print prominently on view in the window of their shop on Main Street.
Remembering the Revolution