The Brush of John Trumbull

Emerging Revolutionary War welcomes back guest historian Michael Aubrecht

Trumbull

John Trumbull

John Trumbull’s paintings represent some of the most familiar depictions from the time of the American Revolution. Trumbull was a graduate of Harvard University and the gifted son of the Governor of Connecticut. As a child, Trumbull showed a remarkable talent for an attention to detail. This aptitude set his drawings apart from his contemporaries. Trumbull traveled to London in 1784 to study painting under the master Benjamin West. It was then that he started painting some of his most notable pieces. There he honed his expertise for realistic painting. A year later later Trumbull traveled to the City of Paris to do commissioned artworks. He later did portraits of George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. In 1816, he was selected as the president of the American Academy of the Fine Arts where he would serve for 20 years. Emphasizing classic traditions Trumbull attempted to teach the skills he had acquired while overseas. Following his death in 1843 at the age of 87, Trumbull was buried beneath the Art Gallery at Yale University which he had designed. In 1867, his collection of artworks were displayed at the Street Hall building on the same grounds. He and his wife’s remains were later re-interred and buried on the grounds of that building. Trumbull’s approach to painting has been studied by art students around the world. Today Trumbull’s paintings remain some of the most cherished ever to be painted by an American artist. 

A few of his more famous paintings are below:

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