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John Trumbull

Born: Lebanon, CT, 6 June 1756
Died: New York, 10 November 1843
Nationality: American

son of Jonathan Trumbull, Governor of Connecticut


self-taught, copied works of John Singleton Copley while studying at Harvard College (1771-73); rented former studio of painter John Smibert and studied Smibert’s copies of Old Master paintings (1778-80);  with Benjamin West (1780 and 1784-89, London); Royal Academy (1784-89, London)


1771 – meets Copley in Boston

1775 – aide to General Joseph Spencer during American Revolution

1776 – moves to New York; aide-de-camp to Generals George Washington and Horatio Gates; mapmaker for Washington

1780 – arrested as a spy in London; imprisoned (8 months) and deported

1785 – begins series of history paintings depicting American Revolutionary War

1794-1804 – returns to Europe as diplomat

1816 – elected director of the new American Academy of Fine Arts (New York)

1817-1835 – elected president of American Academy

1826 –National Academy of Design founded in protest of Trumbull’s outdated curriculum at American Academy; Trumbull’s paintings for the U.S. Capitol Rotunda installed

1831 – Trumbull sells Revolutionary War series to Yale College for the establishment of Trumbull Gallery


London (1780, 1784-89, 1794-1804, 1806-16); Paris (1780, 1786-87); New York (1789-94, 1804-1806, 1817-43)

Commissions from: 

United States government

Important Artworks: 

Self-Portrait, 1802 (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven)

Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, after 1815–before 1831 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Declaration of Independence, 1786 (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven)

Resignation of General Washington, 23 December 1783, 1826 (U.S.  Capitol Rotunda, Washington, D.C.)