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^XA 3 Kill JHT 10 JOOH'Je 3JaY 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

PAINTED BY WALDO AND JOUETT 
.5X«J" in- 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

A BRIEF SKETCH 
OF HIS LIFE 

TO WHICH IS ADDED 

A CATALOGUE OF HIS WORKS 



Prepared for the Committee on 
the Bi-Centennial Celebration 
of the Founding of Yale College 

J" 

JOHN F.^WEIR, N.A., M.A. 

DIUCTOR OP THE YALE SCHOOL 
OP THE PIHB ARTS 



NEW YORK 
CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 

MDCCCCI 



COPYRIGHT, 1 90 1 
BY JOHN F. WEIR 

PUBLISHED 
OCTOBER, 1 901 



, 2. 544 


-  2 8 


1902 


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\V 



PREFACE 

THE following sketch of the life and 
works of John Trumbull has been 
prepared at the request of the Com- 
mittee on the Bi-Centennial Celebration of the 
Founding of Yale College, in connection with 
an exhibition of his collected paintings, as a 
feature of that celebration, and to ** emphasize 
the position of Yale University as the principal 
custodian of Trumbuirs historical works/' The 
** Trumbull Gallery/' since 1831, when it came 
into the possession of Yale College, constitutes 
one of the chief treasures of the University, con- 
taining as it does a series of historical paintings 
commemorative of important events of the 
American Revolution, including a collection of 



PREFACE 

portraits of prominent persons of that time, 
painted from life. The artist served for a brief 
period as aide-de-camp to General Washington, 
in the first year of the Revolution, and in the 
succeeding year he served as deputy adjutant- 
general under the command of Major-General 
Gates. In these positions, as well as in his sub- 
sequent official and social relations, he was 
brought into familiar intercourse with many of 
the most prominent actors in the War of Inde- 
pendence, being himself a son of Governor Jon- 
athan Trumbull, Sr., of Connecticut. Through 
his prominent connections, therefore, both in 
Europe and America, the life of Trumbull 
has peculiar interest, while his works have be- 
come a precious legacy to the succeeding gen- 
erations. 

The principal sources of information con- 
sulted in the preparation of the following mon- 
ograph were the ** Autobiography, Reminis- 
cences and Letters of John Trumbuir*; Dun- 
lap's "History of the Arts of Design"; Tuck- 
erman's "Book of the Artists," "Artist-Life," 
and "Memorial of Greenough" ; John Durand's 



VI 



1 

I 



PREFACE 

papers on Trumbull, reprinted from the 
American Art Review; papers in "The 
American Journal of Science '' and other peri- 
odicals ; and certain manuscript letters of Trum- 
bull, together with the various catalogues of his 
works, published in 1831, 1835, 1847, ^^5^ 
and 1864. 



< 



j 



CONTENTS 

JOHN TRUMBULL: Sketch of His 
Life ..... 3—46 

DESCRIPTIONS OF PAINTINGS: 

47-65 

CATALOGUE OF HISTORICAL PAINT- 
INGS, PORTRAITS, MINIATURES, 
AND OTHER WORKS OF ART, 
BY JOHN TRUMBULL . 66-79 



ILLUSTRATIONS 



PACoro 



Frontispiece: John Trumbull: . Title 

Painted by Waldo and Jouett. 

« 

Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 1793: . 4 

Painted by John Trumbull. 

Mrs. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 1793 : 6 

Miniature by John Trumbull. 

Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., 1792: . 10 

Miniature by John Trumbull. 

Benjamin West: .... 14 

Painted by Sir. Thomas Lawrence. 

Thomas Jefferson : .... 22 

From Trumbull's ^^Declaration of Indepen- 
dence.'* 

John Adams, 1792: .... 24 

From a miniature by Trumbull. 

President Washington, 1793: . 26 

By Trumbull. 

John Jay, 1793: .... 32 

Attributed to Trumbull. 



Zl 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

Alexander Hamilton: 

Painted by Trumbull. 

Mrs. John Trumbull : 

Painted by Trumbull. 

Bust of Trumbull : . 

By Ball Hughes. 

Battle of Bunker's Hill: 

Painted by Trumbull. 

Death of Montgomery: . 

Painted by Trumbull. 

Sortie from Gibraltar : . 

Painted by Trumbull. 

Declaration of Independence : 

Painted by Trumbull. 

General Washington : 

Full-length portrait by Trumbull. 

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis : 

Painted by Trumbull. 

Resignation of Washington : 

Painted by Trumbull. 

Oil Sketch by Trumbull for The 
Battle of Princeton: 

Copy of Certificate of the Order 
OF the Cincinnati : . 



PACXKG 

34 
38 
42 

49 

52 

53 

SS 
62 

68 

72 



74 



80 



JOHN TRUMBULL 



r. 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

TRUMBULL begins his autobiography 
with an account of the origin of the 
family name, connecting the New 
England Trumbulls with the TurnbuUs of Scot- 
land, whose heraldic device is three bulls' heads, 
with the motto, Fortuna favet audaciy said to 
have originated in the rescue of the king of 
Scotland from the attack of a bull, by a young 
peasant, who was rewarded with an estate and 
coat of arms. Trumbull traces his immediate 
descent from John Trumbull, of Rowley, Essex 
Co., Mass., who came from Cumberland, or 
Lancashire, England, and was made a freeman 
in Boston, in 1640, whose son John removed 
to Suffield, Conn. One of the sons of the latter, 
Joseph, settled in Lebanon, and this person was 
the artist's grand£ither, born in 1 679. His son, 
Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., father of the artist, was 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

born at Lebanon in 1710, and was graduated ^ 
from Harvard College in 1727, eventually be- 
coming Governor of Connecticut. He was the 
only Colonial Governor who held office during 
the Revolution. Washington in his difficulties 
and perplexities at a critical period of the war, 
when seeking reinforcements, referred in a letter 
to Governor Trumbull as " Brother Jonathan," 
thus originating a term since humorously em- 
ployed in personifying the nation. 

The artist's mother. Faith Trumbull, daugh- H 
ter of John Robinson, minister of Duxbury, 
Mass., was the great-granddaughter of John 
Robinson, who led the Pilgrim Fathers out of 
England, and was their pastor until they sailed 
from Holland for the new world, in 1620. 

John Trumbull, the artist, was born at Leb- ^ 
anon on the 6th of June, 1756. He was the 
youngest of six children, and for the first nine 
months of his life was subject to almost daily 
convulsions caused by compression of the brain, 
owing to the overlapping of the bones of the cra- 
nium. By the mother's untiring exertions these 
were eventually reduced to their proper junc- 
tion in the sutures, and the child quickly re- 
covered. 

At the time that John was old enough to 



JONATHAN TRUMBULL, SR. 

'793 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

begin his studies, there was at Lebanon an ex- 
cellent school kept by Nathan Tisdale, a gradu- 
ate of Harvard College and a good scholar. The 
boy John showed great facility in acquiring 
knowledge, particularly languages, and "read 
Greek at six years of age*': this, however, he 
says, was but the knowledge of a parrot — mem- 
orized sounds and signs. At the age of twelve 
he was qualified to enter college, for he had read 
Eutropius, Cornelius Nepos, Virgil, Cicero, 
Horace and Juvenal, in Latin; the New Testa- 
ment and Homer's Iliad in Greek ; and was thor- 
oughly versed in Geography, ancient and mod- 
ern. He had also read considerably in History, 
and attained some proficiency in Mathematics, 
including geometry, trigonometry, navigation 
and surveying. He entered Harvard College at 
the age of fifteen, in the middle of the third, 
or Junior year, and was able to master his 
studies so easily that he regarded this as an idle 
period of his life. 

In a letter from oneof his tutors, William Knee- 
land, to Governor Trumbull, dated Cambridge, 
14 July, 1 772, the following comment is made: 
'' I find he [John] has a natural genius and dis- 
position for limning. As a knowledge of that 
art will probably be of no use to him I submit 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

to your consideration whether it would not be 
best to endeavor to give him a turn to the study of 
perspective, a branch of mathematics, the knowl- 
edge of which will at least be a genteel accom- 
plishment, and may be greatly useful in future 
life/' To this the Governor replied : " I am 
sensible of his natural genius and inclination for 
limning ; an art I have frequently told him that 
will be of no use to him/' While at Harvard 
College he filled his leisure hours, in part, with 
visits to a family of Acadian exiles, then resid- 
ing in Cambridge, and from them he learned to 
speak the French language fluently, defraying 
the expense out of his pocket money. He had 
already manifested a strong liking for art, and 
while at Harvard he searched the library for 
works relating to the Fine Arts, discovering 
Brooke Taylor's "Jesuits* Perspective^ the princi- 
ples of which he mastered, copying all the dia- 
grams. But what enlisted his keenest interest 
while in college were several portraits by Cop- 
ley that hung in the philosophical room, where 
he "listened with pleasure to Dr. Winthrop's 
lectures." A collection of Piranesi's prints from 
Roman ruins was also his delight. He spent 
many of his spare hours, while an undergradu- 
ate, in making copies of paintings, one of which 



MRS. JONATHAN TRUMBULL, SR. 

PAINTED AT LEBANON, I 793 



rr 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

was commended by Copley. In July, 1773, he 
says, he "graduated without applause, for he 
was not a speaker/' As he was the youngest 
boy in the class, having entered in an unusual 
way, his timidity kept him in the background 
and he formed few intimate acquaintances ; in- 
deed, only one, Christopher Gore, of a lower 
class, whose portrait, now in the Yale collection, 
Trumbull painted at a later day, when Gore was 
Governor of Massachusetts. 

On his return to Lebanon he made his first 
essay in original composition, in a picture of 
Paulus Mmiliiis at the Battle of Canrue; prepar- 
ing his own colors and inventing the other re- 
quisites for this first attempt. Though crude 
and unskilful in design and workmanship this 
picture is a kind of germ of his future perform- 
ances. His old friend, Tisdale, having been 
disabled by a stroke of paralysis, Trumbull was 
induced to take charge of his school of seventy 
or eighty pupils, including "children lisping 
their A. B. C.'s, and young men preparing for 
college," some of whom, he says, were older 
than himself. 

In the summer of 1 774 the angry discus- 
sions between Great Britain and her colonies 
began ; Trumbull writes : " As the low growl- 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

ing of distant thunder announces the approach 
of the tempest, so did these discussions give no- 
tice that a moral storm was at hand, men be- 
gan to fear that these questions would soon be 
referred to the decision of arms ... I caught 
the growing enthusiasm. . . . My father was 
governor of the colony, and a patriot, and of 
course surrounded by patriots, to whose ardent 
conversation I listened daily/* He formed a 
small company from among the young men of 
the school and the village, and drilled them. 
Of these youthful companions several became 
valuable officers in the war which soon fol- 
lowed.* 

With the bursting of the storm at Lexing- 
ton, General Joseph Spencer formed, "as if by 
magic,*' the first regiment of Connecticut troops, 
of which John Trumbull was made adjutant. 
While packing his things preparatory to the 
march of the regiment to Boston, his mother, 
who was assisting him, said, " My son, when I 
recollect the sufferings of your infancy, with 

* Among them wu Roger Alden, who rose to the rank of major 
and died at West Point. He was the father of Colonel Bnuiford R. 
Alden, afterward commandant of the Corps of Cadets at the Military 
Academy. It was from the estate of Colonel Alden*8 widow that Yale 
acquired the fiunous Belgian wood-carvings that now form part of the 
treasures of the Art School. 

8 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

your present feebleness of constitution, and anti- 
cipate the hardships and dangers to which you 
are about to be exposed, I hardly dare hope 
that we shall ever meet again ; however, in all 
events, I charge you so to conduct yourself, that 
if I ever see you again it may be with the pride 
and delight of a mother/' 

The regiment reached the vicinity of Boston 
early in May, and was stationed at Roxbury, in 
full view of the enemy's lines at the entrance to 
Boston. ^* The entire army," he writes, " if it 
deserved the name, was but an assemblage of 
brave, enthusiastic, undisciplined country lads; 
the officers, in general, quite as ignorant of mili- 
tary life as the troops, excepting a few elderly 
men who had seen some irregular service among 
the provincials under Lord Amherst.** 

On the 17th of June, Trumbull writes, " I 
was out at daybreak, visiting the piquet-guard of 
the regiment posted in full view of Boston and 
the bay behind it, when I was startled by a gun 
fited from a sloop of war, lying at anchor be- 
tween the town and Litchmere's point, about 
where the Cambridgeport bridge now is. . . 
It was followed by another, apparently from 
the Somerset, sixty-four, which lay between 
the north end of Boston and Charlestown. It 



\ 



1 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

soon became evident to us in Roxbury that some 
movement was making in that quarter, but we 
knew not what. . . As the day advanced, the fir- 
ing continued to increase, and our anxiety to know 
the cause was extreme, when at length, near noon, 
we learned that a detachment from Cambridge 
had during the preceding night taken post on 
the hill behind Charlestown and were engaged 
in throwing up a work. They had been dis- 
covered by the ships at daybreak and fired upon. 
. . ^* It was about three o'clock when the firing 
suddenly increased, and became very heavy and 
continuous : with the help of glasses, the smoke 
of firearms became visible along the ridge of 
the hill, and fire was seen to break out among 
the buildings of the town, which soon en- 
veloped the whole in flames. We could ascer- 
tain by the receding of the smoke on the ridge 
of the hill that our troops were losing ground, 
but we had no correct information of the 
result of the Battle of Bunker's Hill, until late 
at night." 

** Not long after that memorable day," he 
continues, "General Washington arrived and 
assumed command of the army. A few days after 
his arrival I was told by my eldest brother, the 
commissary-general, that the commander-in- 



lO 



JONATHAN TRUMBULL, JR. 
■792 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

chief was very desirous of obtaining a correct 
plan of the enemy*s works in front of our posi- 
tion, on Boston Neck ; and he advised me (as I 
could draw) to attempt to execute a view and 
plan, as a means of introducing myself (probably) 
to the favorable notice of the General." This 
he did, and as a result it led to his promotion 
to the position of second aide-de-camp on the 
general's staff. The following is copied from 
General Washington's order-book : " July 27, 
1775. John Trumbull, Esq., being appointed 
Aid de Camp to his Excellency the Commander 
in Chief, is to be obeyed as such.'' 

Trumbull was soon after made Major of 
Brigade; and when, in June, 1776, General 
Gates was ordered to take command of the 
"Northern Department," then vaguely defined, 
but supposed to include Canada, he appointed 
Trumbull deputy adjutant-general, with the 
rank of Colonel; and Trumbull accompanied 
him to Albany and Ticonderoga in that capacity. 
General Gates had been instructed to appoint 
his own deputy adjutant-general and deputy 
quartermaster-general, so that Trumbull's ap- 
pointment by Gates was official and quite in 
order. But it was not until seven months later, 
namely, February, 1777, that John Hancock, 



II 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

President of Congress^ forwarded to him his 
commission, bearing date September 12, 1776. 
Considering the discrepancy between the date of 
this commission from Congress, and the date of 
his appointment by General Gates, under which 
appointment he had actually served in the capacity 
of deputy adjutant-general, Trumbull regarded it 
as derogatory to his military pride to accept the 
commission tendered him, and he returned it 
with a brief note pointing out the discrepancy. 

This terminated Trumbull's military career 
so far as his official standing was concerned. At 
a later day, in 1778, when a project was formed 
for the recovery of Rhode Island from the 
British, Trumbull offered his services to General 
Sullivan as a volunteer aide-de-camp and his 
offer was accepted. When the enterprise failed 
he returned to Lebanon, and, as he expressed it, 
'' resumed his pencil/' It was undoubtedly to 
his own and to his country's advantage that his 
military career was checked at this early day ; 
nevertheless his military experience, brief though 
it was, may be considered an important factor 
in his preparation for the commemorative works 
that afterward were to engage his powers as an 
artist ; for he painted the Battle of Bunker^ s Hill 
and the Death of Montgomery with the under- 



t% 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

standing of one not unfamiliar with the spirit of 
his themes. ^^^^ 

Later in the year, 1 777 ^ he went to Boston, 
^'that he might pursue his studies in art to 
greater advantage/' There he rented a studio 
which had been built by Smibert, and found in 
it several studies made by that artist from cele- 
brated pictures in Europe; these he proceeded 
to copy, having found that Copley had gone 
abroad and that there remained no one in Bos- 
ton who could give him instruction. During 
the winter of 1777 and '78 he says, "a club 
was formed of young men fresh from college, 
among whom were Rufus King, Christopher 
Gore, William Eustis, Royal Tyler, Thomas 
Dawes and Aaron Dexter — ^all of whom became 
distinguished.'' The club met in Trumbull's 
room, '^ regaling themselves with tea instead of 
wine and discussing literature, politics and war." 

While in Boston he became acquainted with 
John Temple, afterwards knighted and made 
consul-general of Great Britain in New York, 
who seemed to be regarded by both parties as a 
neutral, and was occasionally permitted to pass 
from one side to the other. He married a 
daughter of Governor Bowdoin, and had high 
connections in England. As Mr. Temple 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

was acquainted with Benjamin West, in London, 
he strongly urged Trumbull to go abroad and 
study under that artist ; and in fact he paved the 
way for this after his return to England. 

In May, 1780, Trumbull sailed for Nantes 
" in a French ship of twenty-eight guns," and on 
his arrival spent a brief time in Paris where he 
became acquainted with Dr. Franklin and his 
grandson. Temple Franklin; also with John 
Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, ^* then 
a boy of fourteen.'* Franklin gave him a letter 
of introduction to West, and he set out for Lon- 
don. He was kindly received, and installed as a 
pupil, and there he met Gilbert Stuart. On 
Trumbull's first essay Mr. West pronounced him 
" evidently intended by nature for a painter." 
He had hardly begun his studies under West 
when, on November 15, 1780, the news ar- 
rived in London of the treason of Arnold and 
the death of Major Andr6. Trumbull says: 
" Major Andr6 had been the deputy adjutant- 
general of the British Army and I a deputy ad- 
jutant-general in the American Army;" it 
seemed proper, therefore, that Trumbull should 
be taken into custody and a warrant was im- 
mediately issued for his arrest. 

When Mr. West heard of this he went im- 



»4 



BENJAMIN WEST 

PAINTED BY SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE 
WAOSWORTH ATMEN/tMJM, HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

mediately to Buckingham House and gained an 
audience with the King, who said, ^^ I am sorry 
for the young man, but he is in the hands of the 
law, and must abide the result — I cannot inter- 
pose. But/' he added, " tell Mr. Trumbull that 
in the worst possible event of the law, his life 
shall be safe." Trumbull remained in prison 
for seven months. Mr. West supplied him with 
painting materials and loaned him his own fine 
copy of a Correggio, of which Trumbull pro- 
ceeded to make a facsimile, which he finished 
in prison during the winter of 1780-81. He 
was finally released on bail, on condition that he 
should leave the Kingdom within thirty days and 
not return until after peace had been declared. 
Mr. West and Mr. Copley became his sureties. 
He immediately left for Holland, where he was 
joined by Mr. Temple. At Amsterdam he found 
his letters, among them a packet from his father 
giving him authority and instructions to negoti- 
ate a loan in Holland for the State of Connecti- 
cut ; but this, on consultation with Mr. Adams, 
he found was impracticable. 

Trumbull's description of his voyage home, 
which was exceedingly hazardous, is told in his 
autobiography with considerable literary power. 
On his return he became a contractor for army 

«5 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

supplies, and in this capacity he was at Wash- 
ington's headquarters at New Windsor on the 
Hudson, during the winter of 1782—83. And 
here, he writes, ** we received the news of the sign- 
ing of the preliminary articles of peace, and an 
end was thus put to all further desultory pur- 
suits. It was now necessary for me to deter- 
mine upon a future occupation for life/' 

There was a commercial side to Trumbuirs ^ 
character, and he now considered proposals for 
engaging in mercantile affairs. While in college 
his father had wished him to enter the ministry ; 
now he wanted him to enter the legal profes- 
sion. On his expressing his decided preference 
for art, ^' dwelling on the honors paid to artists 
in Greece and Athens,'* his father replied, ** Yes, 
my son, but you appear to forget that Connecti- 
cut is not Athens." Nevertheless he now reached 
a final decision, and thence on his career is prin- 
cipally that of an artist. 

He again sailed for London in January, r 
1784, and went immediately to Mr. West, in 
whose home he remained as a pupil. His father 
had given him a letter to Edmund Burke thank- 
ing him for the kindness shown his son while 
in prison. Burke advised him to study architec- 
ture, for, said he, " you must be aware that you 

16 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

belong to a young nation which will soon want 
buildings, and these must be erected before the 
decorations of painting and sculpture will be re- 
quired." He counselled Trumbull to study 
architecture thoroughly and scientifically, in 
order to qualify himself "to superintend the 
erection of these buildings," adding — " decorate 
them also, if you will." 

Burke being the friend of Sir Joshua Rey- 
nolds, and learning of Trumbull's predilection 
for history and his intention to study with West, 
did not regard this preference with cordiality. 
But Trumbull resumed his studies in West's 
studio, and in the evenings drew at the Academy. 
He made a copy of West's picture of the Battle 
of La Hague, and this task, he says, was of the 
greatest importance to him. 

In the autumn of 1785 he was invited by 
the Rev. Mr. Preston, of Chevening, in Kent, 
to pass a week at his house. The library of 
Mr. Preston (which was eventually bequeathed 
to the library in Philadelphia) "was rich in 
works relating to the arts," and these Trumbull 
studied attentively. Here, he says, he " made 
his first attempt at the composition of a mili- 
tary scene, taken fi-om the War of the Revolu- 
tion; it was a small sketch in India ink, on 

"7 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

paper, of the death of General Frazer at Bemus's 
Heights." 

He continued his studies under West, and at 
the Academy, and '^ began to meditate seriously 
the subjects of national history, events of the 
Revolution,'* which, he adds, "became the great 
object of my life." The death of General War- 
ren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, and of Gen- 
eral Montgomery in the attack on Quebec, were 
first decided upon. These, he says, " were the 
earliest important events in point of time, and I 
not only regarded them as highly interesting 
passages of history, but felt that in painting them 
I should be paying a just tribute of gratitude to 
the memory of eminent men who had given 
their lives for their country." 

These pictures were both painted in West's 
studio. On one occasion as a party of Mr. 
West's friends were assembling to dine with the 
artist, the party including Sir Joshua Reynolds, 
the latter on entering the studio hastily went for- 
ward to the picture that stood on the easel, Mr. 
West having placed Trumbull's Battle of Bunker^ s 
Hilly then nearly completed, where it could be 
seen to advantage and in a good light. Sir 
Joshua, mistaking it for West's performance, 
praised it highly ; to which the host replied. 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

" You mistake^ Sir Joshua^ this is not mine ; it 
is the work of this young gentleman, Mr. Trum- 
bull/* Sir Joshua, Trumbull says, was some- 
what disconcerted. 

Mr. West watched the progress of these two 
pictures with great interest and encouraged the 
young artist to persevere in the work of the his- 
tory of the American Revolution, recommend- 
ing that he should have the series engraved, and 
explaining to him all the details necessary for 
this. Through Mr. Poggi, the publisher, the 
scheme was projected, but it was found that 
there was no engraver of the first class in England 
who was then disengaged. The Battle of Bunk-- 
er^s Hill when completed was sent to Professor 
Mtlller, at Stuttgart, who undertook the work. 

Mr. C. Edwards Lester, in his "Artists of 
America,*' begins his sketch of Trumbull with 
the following : " In a letter written by Goethe 
to Schiller, from Stuttgart, the 30th of August, 
1 797, he says, * I found Professor Mueller work- 
ing at a portrait of Graff, painted by himself. 
He is also busy with the death of a general, and 
that an American, a young man who fell at 
Bunker's Hill. The picture is by an Ameri- 
can, Trumbull, and has merits of the artist, and 
£ciults of the amateur. The merits are very 

»9 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

characteristic and admirably handled portrait 
faces — the faults, disproportion between the dif- 
ferent bodies and between their parts. It is 
composed relatively to the subject right well, 
and for a picture in which there must be so 
many red uniforms, is very judiciously colored; 
yet at first view it makes a glaring impression, 
until one gets reconciled to it on account of its 
merits. The engraving makes a very good 
whole and is in its parts excellently done. ' *' 

This is of interest as coming from the great 
German poet, who evidently was impressed with 
the work. In this picture Trumbull shows him- 
self to be an expert draughtsman. The incident 
is well chosen, the action is at its height and the 
characters are all absorbed in it ; the arrange- 
ment is admirable. 

It is commonly supposed that Trumbull wit- 
nessed the battle as herein depicted. He saw 
the smoke of the action from Roxbury, and from 
that distance, four miles away, considering the 
topography of the intervening country, he only 
knew of the progress of the fight from the smoke 
and noise of musketry, and the burning of the 
village of Charlestown. His picture is the more 
remarkable, therefore, as a product of his im- 
aginative genius working upon carefully collated 



%o 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

facts gathered from various sources, from per- 
sons actually engaged in the fight, and from 
sketches made on the spot at a later day. That 
this picture has the character of an impression 
received by an eye-witness is a triumph of art, 
and the historic accuracy of the work is matched 
by the technical skill with which it is executed. 
That Trumbull should have produced this mas- 
terpiece at the beginning of his career as an 
artist is only another form of evidence, often re- 
marked of greater masters, that genius seems to 
require no preparation, that it is bom with its 
powers already matured. 

Commenting on the character of the aca- 
demic training in art then in vogue, Mr. John 
Durand remarks : ** This method may be charac- 
terized as the ' old-master ' method. It consisted 
in drawing from the antique and copying pic- 
tures executed by the old masters, on the theory 
that such a course of study enabled a pupil to 
obtain proper notions of color and design, as 
well as superior conceptions of beauty and the 
ideal. This theory in England was held to be 
orthodox. The practice of the Renaissance ar- 
tists, together with a study of the forms of Greek 
art, was the right thing ; natural currents of feel- 
ing, coupled with direct study of Nature, 



%i 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

through which feeling expressed itself, was not 
regarded as the true source of artistic develop- 
ment. Certain literary authorities, moreover, 
with minds more affected by erudition than by 
natural sensibility, better judges of the old wine 
of art than the good qualities of the new, 
established a standard of criticism for the public 
and amateurs, until it got to be a fashion to con- 
sider all art that was not ' high art ' as not worth 
looking at. An appeal to Nature for inspira- 
tion and expression, independently of such au- 
thorities, was consequently never thought of. . . 
Trumbull was brought up, as the saying is, ac- 
cording to the old-master method. Fortunately 
for him, as well as for Washington AUston, who 
pursued art under the same influences and at the 
same time, but who was less emancipated from 
its thraldom, they had genius, and were original 
in spite of the method.'* Trumbull's drawings 
from the nude-life, made at the Academy, show 
a careful study of the living figure, with " a ten- 
dency to invest such subjects with ideal interest.'' 
Trumbull had met Thomas Jeflferson in 
London, in 1785, and writes of him in his au- 
tobiography : " He had a taste for the fine arts 
and highly approved my intention of preparing 
myself for the accomplishment of a national 



ss 



THOMAS JEFFERSON 

FROM THE "DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE" 



/^' 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

work. He encouraged me to persevere in this, 
and kindly invited me to Paris to see and study 
the fine works there and to make his house my 
home during my stay." Trumbull availed him- 
self of the invitation and was kindly received. 
He had with him his two paintings, the Battle of 
Bunker's Hill and the Death of Montgomery^ and 
these met Jefferson's warm approbation. It was 
during this visit that he began his Declaration of 
Independence^ "with the assistance of JeflFerson's 
information and advice.** 

TrumbuU was well received by the principal 
artists of Paris, by Le Brun and David particu- 
larly — the latter, he says, becoming his warm 
and efficient friend ; also by Houdon, the sculp- 
tor, and others. His journal, in Paris, gives a 
detailed account of his life there, principally re- 
ferring to his study of works of art. He " found 
David, in his studio in the old Louvre, at work 
upon his Horatii receiving their swords from their 
father^'* upon which he comments as follows: 
" Figures large as life, the story well told, draw- 
ing pretty good, coloring cold." Of Le Brun's 
pictures he says: "The coloring is all that is 
bad, and after seeing such works as Rubens, 
quite insufferable. . . While they have infinite 
merit as compositions, and are great in point of 

»3 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

drawings they are, as colored pictures, bad as 
possible/' This indicates Trumbuirs independ- '^ 
ence of judgment, while it suggests that he had 
already formed his mind in matters of art. His 
own pictures drew forth much praise from the 
artists of Paris, and among others the Count de 
Moustier, Marquis Cubiere, M. D'Hancharville 
and M. Boileau, called to see them and praised 
them highly. 

In November, 1786, Trumbull returned to 
London, his brain, he writes, "half turned by 
the attention which had been paid to my paint- 
ings in Paris, and by the multitude of fine things 
I had seen/* He resumed work upon other sub- 
jects of the history of the American Revolution, 
"arranging carefully the composition for the 
Declaration of Independence^ and preparing this for 
receiving the portraits,*' as he might " meet with 
the distinguished men who were present at that 
illustrious scene/* He adds, " Mr. Adams, in 
the summer of 1787, having taken leave of the 
Court of St. James, and combed the powder 
out of his hair, I took that opportunity to paint 
his portrait in the picture.** 

While staying with Mr. Jefferson in Paris, /^ 
Trumbull painted the portraits of the French 
officers who appear in his picture of the Sur- 

*4 



JOHN ADAMS 

PAINTED IN 1792, WHEN VICE-PRESIDENT 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

render of Comwallisy and he says he regards these 
as the best of his small portraits. He returned 
again to Paris in 1789, and witnessed the be- 
ginning of the French Revolution — the de- ^^ 
struction of the Bastile, etc., and " on one occa- 
sion attended the Marquis de La Fayette in a 
successful attempt to calm a mob of workmen 
in the Fauxbourg St. Antoine." Soon after 
this the Marquis invited him to breakfast at an 
early hour, and alone, and disclosed to Trumbull 
" his views of the situation and the hopes he enter- 
tained, in common with M. Condorcet and the 
Duke de la Rochefaucault, of gaining for France 
a constitution and form of government resem- 
bling that of England, *' into the details of which 
he entered at length, and desired Trumbull on 
his return to America to communicate this to 
Washington (Autobiography, pp. 1 51-153). It 
was at this time that Mr. Jefferson offered Trum- 
bull the position of Secretary, which the latter de- 
clined in an interesting letter from London, 
dated June 11, 1789. He excuses himself for 
declining Mr. Jefferson's offer by stating his 
views of the responsibilities upon which he has 
entered in connection with his profession : " To 
preserve and difRise the memory of the noblest 
actions; to impart to future generations the 

*5 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

glorious lessons of human rights, and of the 
spirit with which these should be asserted and 
supported ; and to transmit to posterity the per- 
sonal resemblance of those who have been great 
actors in those illustrious scenes, are objects that 
give dignity to my profession, peculiar to my 
situation from having borne personally a humble 
part in the great events I am to describe. No 
other artist now living possesses this advantage, 
and no one can come after me to divide the 
honor of truth and authenticity, however easily 
I may hereafter be exceeded in elegance. I feel 
therefore some pride in accomplishing a work, 
such as has never been done before, and in which 
it is not easy that I should have a rival."' After 
mentioning the delays that had impeded the 
publishing of his prints, he concludes : " The 
most serious reflection is, that the memory and 
enthusiasm for actions however great, fade daily 
from the human mind; the warm attention 
which the nations of Europe once paid to us, 
begins to be diverted to objects more nearly and 
immediately interesting to themselves." 

In November, 1789, Trumbull returned 
home and found the Government of the United 
States organized under the new constitution with 
General Washington as President. He says, "I 

»6 



PRESIDENT WASHINGTON 
■793 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

lost no time in communicating to him the state 
of political affairs^ and the prospects of France^ 
as explained to me by M. La Fayette ; and hav- 
ing done this, proceedi&d immediately to visit my 
family and friends in Connecticut. My excel- 
lent father had died in 1785, at the age of sev- 
enty-five. My brother, and my friend. Colonel 
Wadsworth, of Hartford, were members of the 
house of representatives in Congress, which was 
to meet in New York early in December. 
With them I returned to New York for the 
purpose of pursuing my work for the Revolu- 
tion; all the world was assembled there, and I 
obtained many portraits for the Declaration of 
Independence^ Surrender of Comwallis^ and also 
that of General Washington in the battles of 
Trenton and Princeton^ and in April, 1 790, I of- 
fered my subscription for the first two engrav- 
ings, from the pictures of Bunker* s Hill and ^ue-- 
bee J which had at last been contracted for with 
Mr. MuUer of Stuttgart in Germany, and Mr. 
Clements of Denmark. I obtained the names 
of the president, vice-president, ministers, sev- 
enteen senators, twenty-seven representatives, and 
a number of the citizens of New York. In 
May I went to Philadelphia, where I obtained 
some portraits for my great work, and a num- 

»7 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

bcr of subscribers. I returned to New York in ^ 
July, where I was requested to paint for the 
corporation a full-length portrait of the Presi- 
dent. I represented him in full uniform, stand- 
ing by a white horse, leaning his arm on the 
saddle; in the background a view of Broadway 
in ruins, as it then was, the old fort on the 
termination ; British ships and boats leaving the 
shore, with the last of the officers and troops of 
the evacuating army, and Staten Island in the 
distance. The picture is now in the common 
council-room of the City Hall. Every part of 
the detail of the dress, horse, furniture, etc., as 
well as the scenery, was accurately copied from 
the real objects.'* 

In September he went to New Hampshire, 
and, he writes : " Obtained the heads of several 
statesmen and military officers for my great 
work, and in Boston received a handsome addi- 
tion to my list of subscribers. I returned 
through Connecticut to Philadelphia, to which 
place Congress had adjourned from New York. 
In February I went to Charleston, S. C, and 
there obtained portraits of the Rutledges, Pinck- 
neys, Middleton, Laurens, Heyward, etc., and a 
handsome addition to my list of subscribers. On 
the 1 7th of April I sailed for Yorktown in Vir- 

28 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

ginia, and there made a drawing on the spot 
where the British Army, commanded by Lord 
Cornwallis, surrendered in 1 78 1 ; thence rode to 
Williamsburg, and obtained a drawing of Mr. 
Wythe for the Declaration; thence to Rich- 
mond; thence to Fredericksburg, and obtained 
a drawing of General Weeden for the Battle of 
Trenton ; thence to Georgetown, where I found 
Major L' Enfant drawing his plan for the city of 
Washington ; rode with him over the ground on 
which the city has since been built; where the 
Capitol now stands was then (May, 1791) a 
thick wood/' 

On his return to New York Trumbull was 
commissioned to paint for the corporation a 
whole-length portrait of General Clinton, which 
is now in the common council-room of the City 
Hall. The background of this picture repre- 
sents British troops storming Fort Montgomery, 
in the Highlands (where the General com- 
manded) and the burning of two frigates in the 
North River; this background was one of his 
favorite compositions. 

In the meanwhile he was pushing his sub- 
scription-list for the engravings from his pic- 
tures, and the following letter was written by 
General Washington to the Marquis de Lafay- 

*9 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

ette in furtherance of his project for securing 
subscribers in France: 

"Philadelphia, Nov. 21, 1791. 

" My Dear Sir — ^Mr. John Trumbull, with 
whom you are acquainted, is engaged in paint- 
ing a series of pictures of the most important 
events of the Revolution in this coimtry, from 
which he proposes to have plates engraved. I 
have taken peculiar satisfaction in giving every 
proper aid in my power to a subscription here 
supporting his work, which likewise has been 
patronized by the principal people in this coun- 
try. 

" In the hope of meeting the patronage of 
the French nation, to whose honor as well as 
that of America, this plan is directed, Mr. 
Trumbull informs me that he has ordered a 
subscription to be opened in Paris; and the 
object of this letter is to engage you to support 
the subscription in that city, and in other parts 
of the nation, where it may be offered. 

"I should not, however, do justice to Mr. 
Trumbull's talents and merits, were I not to 
mention his views and wishes on this occasion. 
His pieces, so far as they are executed, meet 
the applause of all who have seen them; the 

30 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

greatness of the design, and the masterly execu- 
tion of the work, equally interest the man of 
capacious mind, as the approving eye of the 
connoisseur. He has spared no pains in obtain- 
ing from the life, the likenesses of those charac- 
ters, French as well as American, who bore a 
conspicuous part in our Revolution ; and the suc- 
cess with which his eflForts have been crowned, 
will form no small part of the value of his 
pieces. 

"To you, my dear sir, who know Mr. 
Trumbull as a man and as an artist, it would 
perhaps have been hardly necessary to say so 
much as I have done on this occasion; but I 
could not in justice say less of him, when I be- 
lieve that in his profession he will do much 
honor to the liberal art of painting, as well as to 
this his native country. 

" I cannot conclude this letter without con- 
gratulating you most sincerely on the King's 
acceptance of the constitution presented to him 
by the National Assembly, and upon the happy 
consequences which promise to flow to your 
country, as well as to mankind in general from 
that event. The prayers and wishes of the 
friends of the human race have attended the 
exertions of your nation ; and when your affiurs 

3X 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

shall be completely settled under an energetic 
and equal government^ the hearts of good men 
will be gratified ; and no one will rejoice in your 
felicity, and for the noble and disinterested part 
you have acted, more than your sincere friend 
and truly affectionate servant, 

"Geo. Washington." 

In 1792 Trumbull was again in Philadel- 
phia, and there painted the full-length portrait 
of General Washington, which is now in Yale 
University. Of this portrait he remarks : " The 
best certainly of those which I painted, and the 
best, in my estimation, which exists, in his he- 
roic military character." 

In 1793 Trumbull visited Boston, going by 
way of Newport and Providence, and " obtained 
drawings of Mr. EUery, Colonel Olney, Judge 
Howel, etc. Wherever I went," he says, " I 
offered my subscription-book, but wretched now 
was the success, and rapidly decreasing the en- 
thusiasm for my national work." The French 
Revolution now wholly absorbed the attention 
of the public. 

" In the meantime," he writes, " the ag- 
gressions of Great Britain upon our commerce 
became intolerable, and the question of peace or 

3» 



JOHN JAY 

■793 



I 



\ 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

war with her came to be seriously agitated. The 
President determined to try the effect of nego- 
tiation, and John Jay, Chief Justice of the Uni- 
ted States, was appointed envoy extraordinary to 
Great Britain. He did me the honor to offer 
me the position of secretary, and I accepted the 
proposal with pleasure/' In May, 1794, they 
embarked. 

While in London, Trumbull received from 
Mr. Pickering, then Secretary of State, a com- 
mission and instructions appointing him '' agent 
for the relief and recovery of American seamen 
impressed by Great Britain." At the same time 
he received notice from the commissioners ^' ap- 
pointed by the two nations to carry into execu- 
tion the seventh article of the late treaty, relat- 
ing to the damage done to the commerce of the 
United States by irregular and illegal captures by 
British cruisers,'' naming him as '< the fifth com- 
missioner." The others were Christopher Gore 
and William Pinckney on the part of the Uni- 
ted States, and John Nichol and Dr. Swabey on 
the part of Great Britain. Trumbull was to rep- 
resent both nations. He declined the first ap- 
pointment in favor of the second, and thence on, 
for some years, his time was largely absorbed by 
the duties attending the work of this commission. 

33 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

During a recess^ in July, 1797, he visited 
Stuttgart, to ascertain how Professor MuUer was 
getting on with the engraving of the Battle of 
Bunker^ s Hill. He " found the plate admirably en- 
graved, and requiring very little additional work/' 

On his return to Paris he was "received 
with civility by M. Talleyrand, and invited to 
dine with the minister, meeting Madame de 
Stael, Lucien Bonaparte, Count Lorigny, and 
others." During the dinner Madame de Sta6l 
attempted to engage him in conversation on the 
subject of American affiiirs, but the minister cut 
her short with, " But, Madame de StaSl, no- 
body talks politics here." 

When the Commission for the settlement of 
claims against Great Britain dissolved, after a 
seven years' residence in London Trumbull re- 
turned to America in 1 804. On the 4th of July, 
he says, he dined with the Society of the Cin- 
cinnati, meeting many of his old comrades, and 
also General Hamilton and Colonel Burr. He ^ 
remarks, " The singularity of their manner was 
observed by all, but few had any suspicion of the 
cause. Burr, contrary to his wont, was silent, 
gloomy, sour; while Hamilton entered with 
glee into all the gaiety of a convivial party, and 
even sang an old military song/' Only a few 

34 



ALEXANDER HAMILTON 



^ 



V 



rn^B iiTf* nT r~a «imi imn 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

days passed^ however, when "the wonder was 
solved by that unhappy event which terminated 
the life of Hamilton.' 

Finding Gilbert Stuart established as a por- 
trait painter in Boston, Trumbull decided to set- 
tle in New York, and here he was employed to 
paint for the city government iuU-length por- 
traits of Mr. Jay and General Hamilton, the lat- 
ter from the bust by Cerracchi. These, together 
with those of General Washington and Gover- 
nor Clinton, were hung in the common-council 
rooni in the City Hall. At this time he also 
painted portraits of President Dwight, of Yale 
College, and Stephen Van Rensselaer ; these are 
both in the Yale collection. c ^a ^ 

/.^ fin 1808 Trumbull again sailed for London, 
where he was kindly received by Mr. West and 
many other old friends. After four years of 
fruitless effort to establish himself there in his 
profession, he was about to return to America 
when, in 1812, war was declared against Great 
Britain. With the restoration of peace Trum- 
bull returned home, and settled in New York 
City. His friends, particularly Judge Nichol- 
son, became interested in furthering his project 
for painting a series of historical pictures for the 
nation, the carefriUy-prepared studies, notes, 

35 



«-*- 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

sketches, etc., for which had been gathered with 
such diligence. Judge Nicholson accompanied 
the artist to Washington in furtherance of this 
plan, and interested several members of Con- 
gress in the project, notably Mr. Timothy Pit- 
kin of the House of Representatives. Some of 
the studies were put in the hall of the House, 
and in one of the debates on the subject '' John 
Randolph was eloquent in commendation of the 
work," insisting that Trumbull should be em- 
ployed to execute the whole series of eight 
commemorative pictures. (See Tuckerman's 
"Memorial of Greenough," p. 148.) A reso- 
lution was finally passed, giving authority to the 
President to employ Trumbull to execute four 
pictures for the National Capitol. The choice 
of subjects, and the size, was left to the Presi- 
dent, Mr. Madison, to determine. The sub- 
jects chosen were the Declaration of Independ-- 
ence^ the Surrender of Burgoyne^ the Surrender of 
Lord Comwallis^ and Washington Resigning bis 
Commission. The price was to be |8,ooo for 
each painting ; the size 12x18 feet, with figures 
as large as life. Trumbull was eight years in 
executing these works, and in 1824 went to 
Washington to superintend the placing of them 
in position, in the rotunda of the Capitol. 

36 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

With the completion of this commission 
TrumbuU's debts were paid, and he " began life 
anew/' He was now sixty-eight years of age; 
his powers were by no means what they once 
were. It may be a slip of the pen when he 
says in his autobiography that he was now past 
seventy. He had lost his wife, and a sense of 
loneliness now crept over him, for he had no 
children ; but, he adds, '' my hand was steady, 
and my sight good, and I felt the strength of 
life within.'' But too long a period had elapsed 
before his powers were enlisted in this com- 
memorative work for the nation; he was not 
himself aware that the delay had been fatal to 
their best exercise. His thoughts now turned 
in his art to religious subjects, and later to re- 
peating in a size of 6x9 feet, the subjects he 
had already executed for the National Capitol. 

With his declining years he began to con- 
sider what he should do with his collection of 
historical studies, portraits and miniatures, which 
still remained in his possession. He first thought 
of Harvard College, as being well able to afford 
the purchase; but eventually they became the 
property of Yale, Trumbull receiving as an equi- 
valent a life-annuity of $ i ,000, which he con- 
tinued to draw for twelve years, or until the 

37 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

time of his death. The indenture was drawn 
up by President Day, on the 1 9th of December, 
1 8 3 1 9 in the name of the President and Fellows 
of Yale College. To the number of pictures 
specified in the original list, Trumbull added 
many others by subsequent gifts, most of which, 
however, were the productions of his later years, 
when his lamp lacked oil. 

During his residence in New York Trum- 
bull was active in prosecuting his profession and 
in giving instruction in the Academy over which, 
for a time, he presided. An association had 
early been formed in New York "for promot- 
ing the Fine Arts,'* of which Chancellor Liv- 
ingston was the first president. For a consider- 
able period the institution was sustained with 
some vigor, but it finally lost its vitality, and in 
1 816 had nearly ceased to exist. During 
that year, De Witt Clinton, who was then 
president of the association, originated and per- 
fected a plan by which the association was re- 
vived under the name of " The American Aca- 
demy of Fine Arts.'* He resigned the presi- 
dency, and at his nomination Trumbull was 
elected to fill the chair. Dunlap, who seems to 
have borne Trumbull ill-will, and who in his 
'* History of the Arts of Design '' takes no pains 

38 



MRS. TRUMBULL 

PAmTED BY JOHN TRUMBULL 



V 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

to conceal this, intimates that the election of 
Trumbull gave great dissatisfaction; but appar- 
ently there was no ground for this charge, and 
Trumbull continued to fill the president's chair 
until the formation of " The National Academy 
of Design/' in 1825, with Samuel F. B, Morse 
as president. 

It is hardly to be expected that the popular 
estimates of the time could do Trumbull justice, 
and yet he was himself the means of promoting 
a respect for art, more conspicuously than any 
other artist of his day. At the time when he 
was producing his three or four principal works, 
at the beginning of his career — ^works which 
have made his name illustrious — the arts were 
held in light esteem in this country, if not 
through ignorance, perhaps from necessity. 
Trumbull strove to make his works popular by 
means of engravings, executed in the best man- 
ner, and sold at a moderate price ; but the pro- 
ject £dled, so far as yielding him any adequate 
money return is concerned. 

In a MS. letter in the Yale Library, ad- 
dressed to Thomas Jefferson, October i, 1823, 
when he was delivering the engraving of the 
Declaration of Independence^ Trumbull writes : 
'< I have the pleasure of saying that not only has 

39 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

the engraving been finished with great beauty, 
but the printing has been executed with uncom- 
mon success. It is delightful to me, that after 
the lapse of so many years, this work which I 
meditated, and you assisted me to arrange, at 
Chaillot, in the year 1786, is at last completed. 
Rarely does it occur that two individuals, ad- 
vanced as we then were on the road of life, re- 
main to see the completion of a favorite project 
at the end of thirty-seven years. The event 
was great beyond all others in the history of 
man; the actors in it were men who not only 
by that act, but by the consistent and undeviat- 
ing patriotism of their subsequent conduct de- 
serve to live in the memory of mankind to the 
end of time ; and I thank God that I have pos- 
sessed (to use the beautiful language of Dr. 
Johnson) ^ Calmness of mind, and steadiness of 
purpose ' to complete this memorial of such 
men and such an act. May I not, my dear sir, 
without excessive vanity, say with Horace, 
^Monumentum exegi aere perenniusy will not my 
name live, under the shadow of their glory/* V" 
There is this to be said of Trumbull: he be- 
lieved fully in the dignity of his profession; he 
was uncompromising in his own attitude and in 
his demands of others with regard to this ; and 

40 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

he was always accorded a high respect by per- 
sons of distinction. In temperament he was 
high-strung, impetuous often, and exceedingly 
sensitive. He had his enemies, but the shaft of 
malice never penetrated his knightly shield; he 
was a gentleman under all circumstances — ^by 
birth^ by education, and by natural instinct. He 
gave, perhaps, too much thought to matters for- 
eign to his profession and of comparatively little 
consequence in view of his acknowledged merits 
as an artist. His military experience was brief 
and unimportant — save as it aided to equip him 
for his commemorative works. 

As to his art, Trumbull's life divides into ^^ 
three distinct periods: the first, from 1786 to 
1 797, is marked by the execution of those bril- 
liant works, widely known through engravings, 
namely, the Declaration of Independence^ the Battle 
of Bunker^ s Hill^ the Death of Montgomery^ and a 
considerable collection of miniature portraits, in 
separate frames and others included in his Surren- 
der of Comwallis. To these may be added his 
Sortie from Gibraltar^ his full-length portrait of 
Washington^ and perhaps half a dozen other 
portraits painted at this time. The larger part 
of his best works are in the collection at Yale 
University. The paintings executed between 

4" 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

1786 and 1797 alone give Trumbull his place in 
art ; upon these works his reputation rests. The 
second period, from 1797 to 1824, covers his 
later residence of seven years in London, and his 
longer residence in New York City, where he 
established himself as a portrait painter. This 
period is marked by an entire change of style, 
especially in his subject pictures, which gener- 
ally were of religious or literary themes, some- 
what in the style of Benjamin West. It was 
during the latter part of this second period that 
Trumbull painted his four large pictures for the 
National Capitol, of which John Durand says: 
" No interest attaches to them as works of art." 
The third period, from 1824 to his death in 
1843, includes numerous pictures of various 
kinds executed in his old age, nearly all of which 
should have been destroyed — notably the replicas 
of his earlier historical works, now in the 
Wadsworth Athenaeum at Hartford. 

It may be seen from this that Trumbull's 
reputation as an artist rests almost exclusively 
upon works executed between 1785 and 1797. 
The examples are few, but their merit is great — 
great enough to have made his name illustrious 
in the annals of American art. It is to the en- 
graver principally that Trumbull owes his wide 

4» 



BUST OF TRUMBULL 

BY BALL HUGHES 
VALE SCHOOL OF THE FINE AllTS 



1 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

reputation, for those only who have seen his ear- 
lier works at Yale, and the few important por- 
traits in the City Hall in New York, can form 
a just estimate of his merits as a painter. The 
decline of his power is already foreshadowed in 
the general composition of his surrenders of Bur- 
goyne and Comwallis. When the first great im- 
pulse which vitalized his art had spent itself, or 
when the motive that first enlisted his ardent 
sympathies had become a memory, his clear^ight 
was dimmed, and his art became only a faint 
echo of his earlier achievements. John Durand 
remarks: "Colonel Trumbull's artistic career 
may be considered as closed on the execution of 
his large pictures for the National CapitoL As 
an artist he can be thoroughly appreciated only 
through his works at New Haven/* Scattered 
here and there are a few fine portraits — one, 
of " an artist,'* in the Wadsworth Athenaeum at 
Hartford, and one of his nephew, John M. Trum- 
bull, painted in London, now in Minneapolis, 
are among his best. He painted rapidly, " av- 
eraging five sittings to a head.'* 

There are five portraits of Trumbull: one 
painted by himself in 1833, and engraved in his 
memoirs ; two by Waldo and Jouett,— one of 
these is in the Yale School of the Fine Arts ; a 



43 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

small full-length by Twibill, now in the posses- 
sion of the National Academy of Design ; one 
in the possession of Mrs. Benjamin Silliman, 3d ; 
and one painted by Gilbert Stuart, owned by 
William Forbes Morgan, of New York. The 
portrait now in the Yale School of Fine Arts 
was engraved by A. B. Durand for the " Na- 
tional Portrait Gallery/' A miniature of Colonel 
Trumbull, by Robertson, " exists somewhere in 
England/' A bust of Trumbull, by Ball Hughes, 
is in the Yale Art School at New Haven ; and 
there was a medal of him issued by " The Amer- 
ican Art Union/' 

In closing his sketch of Trumbull, published 
in "The American Art Review," Mr. Durand 
says : " Such were the men who laid the founda- 
tion of American character. I can only add, in 
conclusion, that Trumbull the artist is worthy to 
be named as the peer of his great friends and 
contemporaries, Washington, Jefferson and Frank- 
lin, and is entitled to be associated with them in 
the minds and memories of his countrymen." 

In a letter from Professor Benjamin Silli- 
man, Sr., to Mr. Lester, written in 1 846, from 
New Haven, he says: "Colonel Trumbull 
wrote most of his autobiography in my house, 
to which he was invited by Mrs. Silliman, 



>» 

I 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

who was his niece. . • . He remained four 
years in our family. He then returned to 
New York, to be near his physician. Dr. Wash- 
ington, and there remained until his death, 

November lo, 1843, ^' '^^ ^8^ ^^ eighty- 
eight. By his own request his remains were 
brought to my house, whence his funeral pro- 
ceeded to the College Chapel, where an appro- 
priate and feeling historical discourse was de- 
livered by the Rev. Professor Fitch. Eight of 
our principal citizens were bearers, the students 
and citizens forming a procession to the stone 
tomb, beneath the Trumbull Gallery, where his 
remains were laid beside those of his wife. . . 
His long and varied life, abounding in changes, 
and passed among the great men of the time, 
furnished him with a rich fund of historical 
anecdotes. . . . His conversational powers were 
extraordinary. . . . His veneration of Wash- 
ington was very great; he regarded him as 
the greatest and best of men. Many letters of 
Washington, some of them long, and all of them 
parental and affectionate, are among his papers.'* 

When Mr. Augustus Russell Street erected V 
upon the College Square a large and costly 
building for the accommodation of the School 
of Fine Arts, the remains of Colonel Trumbull 

45 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

were removed and deposited in a suitable recep- 
tacle in the foundation beneath that end of the 
large gallery in which his collection of pictures 
is now placed, and which will remain a fitting 
memorial of the man. A marble slab in the 
basement, immediately over the grave, bears the 
following inscription : " Col. John Trumbull : 
Patriot and Artist : Friend and Aid of Washing- 
ton : lies beside his wife beneath this Gallery of 
Art: Lebanon 1756-New York 1843.'' ^^ 
inscription is also cut on the stone pier outside, 
immediately above the grave. 



46 



\ 



DESCRIPTIONS OF PAINTINGS 






i- i 



THE BATTLE OF BUNKER'S HILL: 

THE DEATH OF MONTGOMERY: AND 

THE SORTIE FROM GIBRALTAR 

IN a catalogue prepared by Colonel Trumbull in con- 
nection with an exhibition of his pictures in the 
Gallery of " The American Academy of Fine Arts," in 
Chambers Street, New York City, in 1 83 1 , he writes 
of the Battle of Bunker's Hill. " The painting repre- 
sents the moment when (the Americans having expended 
their ammunidoh) the British troops became completely 
successful and masters of the field. At the last moment 
of the action. General Warren was killed by a musket 
ball through the head. The principal group represents 
him as expiring — z soldier on his knees supports him, 
and with one hand wards off the bayonet of a British 
grenadier, who, in the heat and fury natural at such a 
moment, aims to revenge the death of a favorite officer 
who had just fidlen at his feet. Colonel Small (whose 
conduct in America was always equally distinguished 
by acts of humanity and kindness to his enemies, as by 
bravery, and fidelity to the cause he served) had been in- 
timately connected with General Warren — saw him fall, 
and flew to save him. He is represented seizing the 
musket of the grenadier to prevent the fatal blow, and 
speaking to his friend — it was too late ; the General had 

49 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

barely life remaining to recognize the voice of friend- 
ship; he had lost the power of speech, and expired with 
a smile of mingled gratitude and triumph. Near him 
several Americans, whose ammunition is expended, al- 
though destitute of bayonets, are seen to persist in a re- 
sistance obstinate and desperate, but fruitless. Near this 
side of the painting is seen General Putnam, reluctantly 
ordering the retreat of these brave men ; while beyond 
him a party of the Amencan troops oppose their last 
fire to the victorious column of the enemy. Behind 
Colonel Small is seen Colonel Pitcairn of the British 
Marines, mortally wounded, and falling into the arms 
of his son, to whom he was speaking at the fatal mo- 
ment. General Howe, who commanded the British 
troops, and General Clinton, who, toward the close of 
the action, offered his service as a volunteer, are seen 
behind the principal group. On the right of the paint- 
ing, a young American, wounded in the sword hand 
and in the breast, has begun to retire, attended by a 
faithful negro; but seeing his general fall, hesitates 
whether to save himself, or, wounded as he is, to return 
and assist in saving a life more precious to his country 
than his own. Behind this group are seen the British 
column ascending the hill — grenadiers, headed by an 
officer bearing the British colors, mounting the feeble 
entrenchments ; and more distant, the Somerset ship- 
of-war (which lay during the action between Boston 
and Charlestown) ; the north end of Boston, with the 
battery on Cop's Hill ; and the harbor, shipping, etc., 
etc. No part of the town of Charleston is seen ; but 
the dark smoke indicates the conflagration.'' 

50 



PAINTINGS 

The lines of the composition are suggesti\re of the 
whirl and rush of the action, in the spirit of which the 
figures are all absorbed. The expression of the dying 
general is remarkable for its realistic truth, as is that of 
every principal actor in the scene. The touch of the 
artist is skilful, and the coloring good — ^perhaps some- 
what improved by the lapse of time, which has had the 
effect of toning down the '' glaring effect '* of the red 
uniforms noticed by Goethe. 

In his paper on John Trumbull, reprinted from the 
American Art Review^ Mr. John Durand writes of this 
picture: '* Variety of character, distinct personalities, 
each individual animated by a different impulse, every 
countenance expressing truthfully and powerfully the 
sentiment peculiar to each, the rush of an attacking 
force dri^ng back through superior discipline a motley 
but equally courageous crowd of defenders, all blended 
together without confusion in the tumult and excite- 
ment of battle, show a rare command of artistic resources 
and great dramatic ability. The leading idea is one of 
humanity — ^the attempt of a British officer. Colonel 
Small, to save the life of General Warren. This inci- 
dent, the energetic action of General Putnam on the 
left, ordering a retreat of the American forces, the sym- 
pathetic expression of the old soldier who is supporting 
General Warren on his knees, and lastly, the pallid 
features of the dying hero, form special lexamples of 
Colonel Trumbull's pictorial skill. This is the ideal 
he aimed at, an ideal which makes modern fine art ex- 
plicable on the same theory as ancient art : while the 
latter displays a limited range of emotion, the former 

5" 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

gives with equal fidelity to nature a series of emodons 
which were never dreamt of by the ancients. As to 
composition, which term, applied to plastic art, means 
the logical value and dispositions of forms to convey 
ideas, the Battle of Bunker* s Hill is as masterly and 
original as any work of a similar kind extant/^ 

The Death of Montgomery ^ at the storming of Que- 
bec, was painted by Trumbull in the studio of Benja- 
min West, at the same time as his picture of the Battle 
of Bunker* s Hilly and it is hardly less vital and admirable 
as a work of art The central group, including the ex- 
piring general, who has just been struck by a bullet and 
falls back into the arms of an officer, is executed with 
surprising skill. The touch is crisp, sure, and direct ; 
the drawing is fiiultless and the color admirable. The 
foreshortened features of the dying officer with the head 
thrown backward, the body gradually sinking to the 
ground, has an indescribable expression of death, trans- 
fixing the form and rendering the body inert. The 
representation in this, as in the death of Warren, is re- 
markable for its realism. 

In his catalogue of 183 1, Trumbull writes : ''That 
part of the scene is chosen where General Montgom- 
ery commanded in person ; and that moment, when by 
his unfortunate death, the plan of the attack was en- 
tirely disconcerted, and the consequent retreat of his 
column decided at once the fate of the plan and of such 
of the assailants as had already entered the works at 
another point. The principal group represents the 
death of General Montgomery, who, together with his 
two aids-de-camp. Major McPherson and Captain 

5* 



PAINTINGS 

Cheesman, fell by a discharge of grapeshot from the 
cannon of the place. The general is represented as 
expiring, supported by two of his officers and sur- 
rounded by others, among whom is Colonel Campbell, 
on whom the command devolved, and by whose order 
a retreat was immediately b^;un. Grief and surprise 
mark the countenance of the various characters. The 
earth covered with snow — trees stripped of their foliage 
— the desolation of winter, and the gloom of night, 
heighten the melancholy character of the scene." Mr. 
Durand writes of this picture : '* Dramatic power and 
truth of expression characterize this composition, as 
well as the Battle of Bunker* s Hilly while in coloring it 
is superior." From it was engraved a large print by 
Clements of Denmark. 
\ The Sortie from Gibraltar was repeated five times 

by Trumbull, in various sizes. The large and fine en- 
graving by Sharpe has made this picture widely known. 
Trumbull says of his various renderings of this subject: 
The first effort '^ was a small picture on a cloth four- 
teen inches by twenty-one, on which I carefully drew 
and painted my figures from nature." This picture 
he presented to Mr. West, in acknowledgment of his 
great kindness to him. Mr. Durand says, ^^ Finding 
that he had made a mistake in the color of the Span- 
ish uniform, which he supposed to be white and red, 
he began the subject anew on a canvas twenty by thirty 
inches, the uniform being painted, as it should have 
been at first, blue and scarlet." This picture now be- 
longs to the estate of the late John A. Burnham, of 
Boston. It had been taken from England to Rome 

51 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

by Lady Asburton, and there exchanged for other 
works of art, and came into the possession of Mr. Mc- 
Pherson and was returned to England. Of this picture 
Trumbull made the following minute in his memoran- 
dum-book : '^ Portraits from life : intended for the en- 
graver: 20x30 inches: finished 1788, and sold in 1803 
to Sir Francis Baring for five hundred guineas.*' 

Among the same memoranda is the following ref- 
erence to the large picture, six by nine feet, of the same 
subject, in the possession of the Boston Athenaeum, 
but now deposited in the Boston Museum of Art : 
^^ . . Finished in April, 1789, and exhibited at Spring 
Gardens the following month. . . ." ** For this 
picture I was offered and refused 1,200 guineas.'' It 
was in 1828 sold to the Boston Athenaeum for $5,000. 
Lawrence posed for the dying Spaniard. Of another 
but smaller picture of the same subject. Professor Sil- 
liman, Jr., says in a note (1882) : ^^ I am told it is now 
in Guild Hall, London." There are two in Philadel- 
phia — one at the Academy of Fine Arts, and the other 
in the possession of Mr. J. M. Fox. 

This picture had a great reputation and drew a large 
number of visitors when exhibited in London, perhaps 
this was largely due to the fact that it contained life- 
like portraits of certain prominent officers of the British 
army. In composition it is greatly inferior to either the 
Battle of Bunker's Hill or the Death of Montgomery. 1 1 is 
somewhat melodramatic in action and is poor in color, 
while the body of troops breaking through the stockade, 
which forms a large mass of shadow on the left, is ill con- 
ceived ; but the portrait heads are all admirably painted. 

54 



S ' 



** 



THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE 

THIS picture is the most important of Trambuli's 
works, not only from its great historical inter- 
est as a unique pictorial record of that great event and 
for the authentic portraits therein brought together, but 
also because of its artistic merits. The three pictures 
that mark Trumbull's most brilliant achievement as an 
artist, are the Declaration of Independence^ the Battle cf 
Bunker* s Hilly and the Death of Montgomery ; these three 
pictures may be said to be Trumbull's masterpieces, 
and it is the opinion of artists that they are properly 
so termed. 

In 1848, the sculptor Horatio Greenough wrote : 
'^ I believe I am speaking the sense of the cognoscenti^ 
when I say that the Declaration of Independence has 
earned the respect of all who have watched the devel- 
opment of American Art, and the admiration of those 
who have tried their hand at wielding a weighty and 
difficult subject. I admire in this composition the skill 
with which Trumbull has collected so many portraits in 
formal session, without theatrical effort in order to en- 
liven it, and without falling into bald insipidity by ad- 
hering to trivial fact. These men are earnest, yet full 

55 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

of dignity ; they are firm yet cheerful ; they arc gentle- 
men ; and you see at a glance that they meant some- 
thing very serious in pledging their lives; their fortunes, 
and their sacred honor/' 

In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, bearing date of 
December 28, 18 17, Trumbull writes concerning the 
enlargement of this work for the National Capitol : 
'^ The picture will contain portraits of at least forty- 
seven members • • • for the faithful resemblance of 
thirty-six, I am responsible, as they were done by my- 
self from the Life, being all who survived in 1791 " — 
when he began his studies for this picture. '^ Of the 
remainder," he adds, ''nine are from portraits done by 
others. One, General Whipple, of New Hampshire, 
is from memory; one, Benjamin Harrison, of Virginia; 
is from description aided by memory." The portrait 
of Mr. Adams was painted in London ; that of Mr. 
Jefferson in Paris ; Mr. Hancock and Samuel Adams 
in Boston ; Mr. Rutledge in Charleston, S. C; Mr. 
Wythe at Williamsburg, Va.; Mr. Bartlett, at Exeter, 
N. H., etc., etc. 

It is said that Trumbull carried the small canvas 
now in the Yale School of Fine Arts, in his carriage; in 
a receptacle made for holding it, while in search of the 
original signers whose portraits he painted fi'om life 
wherever he could find them, in various parts of the 
country. How &r he did this directly upon the can- 
vas, or from pencil studies, is uncertain; for the tech- 
nical execution of the heads in the original picture bears 
no trace of their having been painted under different 
lights, or at different times, with the exception of three 

s6 



PAINTINGS 

or four on the extreme left of the composition, which 
evidently were painted in a later day, after Trumbull 
had lost his crisp, accurate, and spirited touch. 

The assemblage of these variously executed por- 
traits in a single harmonious composition, adjusted to 
the color scheme and the requirements of the perspec- 
tive, presented a problem exceedingly difficult to man- 
age. Within the limits of historic truth and the require- 
ments of art Trumbull has succeeded in making his 
composition interesting by skilful groupings. He 
says : *^n order to give some variety to the composi- 
tion, I found it necessary to depart from the usual 
practice of reporting an act, and made the whole com- 
mittee of five advance to the table of the president to 
make their report, instead of having the chairman rise 
in his place for the purpose ; the silence and solemnity 
of the scene offered such real difficulties to a pictur- 
esque and agreeable composition as to justify this de- 
parture from custom and fact. The room is copied 
from that in which Congress held its sessions at the 
time — such as it was before the spirit of innovation 
laid unhallowed hands upon it, and violated its venera- 
ble walls by so-called modern improvement^* 

John Durand, the translator of Taine's works on 
Art, says: "The portnuts of Richard Henry Lee, 
George Clinton, Samuel Adams, Robert Morris, 
George Clymer (the smallest, and an inimitable head), 
with those of the group standing before Hancock — 
John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, 
Jefierson and Franklin — are comparable to the finest 
limning of Meissonier. • . On comparing the heads of 

57 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

Lynch, Chase, Rush and Stockton (executed at a later 
day) with those above mentioned, the difference in 
style is so plain as to make it evident, even to an un- 
practised eye, that the hand had lost its cunning/* 

In his own account of this work Trumbull says: 
" To preserve the resemblance of the men who were 
the authors of this memorable act, was an essential 
object of this painting. Important difficulties pre- , 
sented themselves at the outset; for although only ten 
years had elapsed since the date of the event, it was 
already difficult to ascertain who were the individuals 
to be represented." He questioned " whether he should 
regard the fact of having been actually present in the 
room on the 4th of July, as indispensable;" or should 
he ^' admit those only who were in favor of, and reject 
those who were opposed to the act ; " and where a 
person was dead, and no authentic portrait could be 
obtained, should he admit ideal heads? These were 
questions," he says, ''on which Mr. Adams, and Mr. 
* Jeffisrson were consulted, and they concurred in the 
advice, that with regard to the characters to be intro- 
duced, the signatures of the original act . . . ought to 
be the guide." That portraits should be admitted 
likewise '' of those who were opposed to, and of course 
did not sign, as well as those who voted in favor of the 
Declaration, and did sign it ; particularly John Dick- 
inson of Delaware . . . who was the most eloquent 
and powerful opposer of the measure ; not indeed of 
its principle, but of the fitness of the time, which he 
considered premature." Mr. Jeffisrson and Mr. Adams 
also recommended that where it was impossible to 



PAINTINGS 

obtain a likeness, either from the life, or from some 
authentic portrait of the person, in case of death, the 
^' artist should by no means admit any ideal represen- 
tation, lest, it being known that some such were to be 
found in the painting, a doubt of the truth of others 
should be excited in the minds of posterity ; and that, 
in short, absolute authenticity should be attempted as 
far as it could be obtained/* Thirteen of those who 
were present are not represented in the picture, as there 
were no likenesses to be obtained of them. 

The small picture, now in Yale University, is a 
priceless possession. Historically it is a unique pic- 
torial record of that great event, in the sense of its be- 
ing the original picture from which the larger repro- 
ductions were copied, and was executed when Trumbull 
was at the height of his powers. The large picture, in 
the Capitol at Washington, and the later replica in the 
Wadsworth Athenseum, at Hartford, are as if executed 
by another hand. That in the Capitol at Washington 
Greenough pronounced inferior to the original in color 
and effect, and ^^ having a chalky, distemper-like tone, 
which is very unpleasing." (Memorial of Greenough, 

pp. 148-9-) 

It should be said of Trumbull's treatment of this 
momentous event, with its serious and exalted motive, 
that the artist's mind, in his conception of it, is well on 
the plane of the moral action : the picture is conceived 
from a noble and patriotic point of view ; and we feel 
that the artist who has presented to us this striking 
work, was in character and feeling himself a patriot and 
moved by an exalted sentiment. He resorts to no ex- 

59 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

pedients of artistic cleverness to heighten the dramatic 
interest ; but rather values the simplicity of a scene, 
which, in the light of history, was to have grave and 
momentous issues. 

In choosing the Declaraiion of Independence and the 
Battle of Bunker*s Hill as the two most memorable 
events of the Revolution, TrumbulPs first impulse 
when he executed the smaller pictures, was wiser than 
the choice of his later years when he executed the com- 
mission for Congress. For the first of these themes 
fixes in the minds of succeeding generations that solemn 
" Declaration " by which the fathers of the nation 
staked their lives and sacred honor in the cause of lib- 
erty and independence; while the second marks the 
initial act which led to the securing of this indepen- 
dence by force of arms. All other acts that followed, 
legislative or military, were but subsidiary and conse- 
quent upon these initial events. The surrenders of 
Cornwallis and Burgoyne, though important as leading 
to the termination of the war, were in the order of 
events of minor moral significance. 

To no other artist, and to no one historian, does the 
nation owe so great a debt of gratitude as to Trum- 
bull. His pictures are much more than a pictorial 
record of historic events ; they are the presentation 'of 
those events in a vivid form that has stamped the im- 
pression indelibly on the minds of millions in the suc- 
ceeding generations, including those countless numbers 
who know the events of history in no other way than 
through monuments of art. 

In a letter to Lafayette, dated New York, October 

60 



r 



PAINTINGS 

20, 1823, Trumbull writes : " I have sent you . . . 
a small case containing a proof impression ... of a 
print which has been engraved here from my painting 
of the Declaration of Independence ^ by a young engraver 
(Asher B. Durand), born in this vicinity, and now only 
twenty-six years old. This work is wholly American, 
even to the paper and printing — a circumstance which 
renders it popular here, and will make it a curiosity to 
you, who knew America when she had neither painters 
nor engravers, nor arts of any kind, except those of 
stem utility." 



61 



PORTRAIT OF WASHINGTON 

IN 1792 Trumbull painted his full-length portrait of 
General Washington, which is now in the gallery 
at New Haven; of this picture Trumbull writes : " It 
is the best, certainly, of those which I painted, and the 
best, in my estimation, which exists, in his military 
character." This portrait was originally intended for 
the city of Charleston, S. C, and was officially commis- 
sioned by the local government ; but their representa- 
tive through whom it was ordered seemed to think 
that the city authorities would prefer a portrait of 
Washington in his civic capacity as president. Trum- 
bull writes in his autobiography : ^* Oppressed as the 
President was with business I was reluctant to ask him 
to sit again. I, however, waited upon him and stated 
Mr. Smith's objection, and he cheerfully submitted to 
a second penance, adding, ' Keep this picture for your- 
self, Mr. Trumbull, and finish it to your taste.' I 
did so, and another was painted for Charleston agree- 
able to their taste." When the Connecticut branch of 
the Society of the Cincinnati dissolved, the first pic- 
ture, at the expense of some of the members, was pre- 
sented to Yale College. Doubtless this portrait is 

62 



PAINTINGS 

more true to the normal appearance and personal char- 
acteristics of Washington, of any of the numerous por- 
traits painted from life. Stuart's Washington — the 
unfinished portrait now in the Boston Museum — has 
become the accepted likeness that is indelibly fixed in 
the minds of the people, and anything that varies from 
this is commonly thought to be less true. But in point 
of fact Stuart's portrait is very mannered, and the ex- 
pressionless character of the mouth is said to have been 
due to an ill-fitting set of teeth with which Washing- 
ton, late in life, had been inflicted by his dentist. Nev- 
ertheless, whatever criticism may be made of the Stuart 
portrait, it has become irrevocably the orthodox like- 
ness known to the world as the portrait of Washing- 
ton ; and once the type becomes fixed in this way the 
impression is ineradicable. 

Trumbull claimed that his portrait represents Wash- 
ington as he knew him, and as he was known to his 
associates, the members of his military family. It is a 
good portrait and many artists affirm that, from internal 
evidence, it doubtless is the truest likeness of the man. 
Trumbull claimed literalness for all the details of cos- 
tume likewise, and this with a dryness of insistence 
that is hardly to be expected from an artist of his stand- 
ing or merit. The horse that rears in the background 
is lifeless enough and ill-drawn, as was always the case 
with his representations of this animal ; and this is the 
more noticeable since Trumbull was a good draughts- 
man, and the defect may only be accounted for on the 
ground of his not having studied the horse as carefully 
as he studied the human figure. 

63 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

Washington, in his diary, records, between Febru- 
ary 1 2th and July 13, 1790, eleven sittings "for Mr. 
John Trumbull, for the purpose of drawing my pic- 
ture." Under date of March ist he says: "Exer- 
cised on horseback this forenoon, attended by Mr. 
John Trumbull, who wished to see me mounted.'* 
Tuckerman, in his Character and Portraits of Washing- 
ton^ says of this likeness : " Ask any elderly Knicker- 
bocker what picture will give you a good idea of 
Washington, and he will confidently refer you to 
Trumbull's portrait. When Lafayette first beheld a 
replica of this picture on his visit to this country, in 
1824, ^ ^^^ years before his death, he uttered an ex- 
clamation of delight at its resemblance." Of this por- 
trait John Durand wrote : " The portrait of General 
Washington by Trumbull, in the New Haven collec- 
tion, must be regarded as a standard portrait of the 
Father of his Country. No ardst saw more of Wash- 
ington under circumstances so favorable to a study of 
his person and character, and none was honored by 
him with more sittings. Trumbull knew Washington 
at the outbreak of the war, when he was about forty- 
five, in the prime of life, and he was with him, as we 
have seen, in 1782 and 1783, at New Windsor, on the 
North River, and it is said that he painted a portrait 
of him from memory when he went to England. At 
all events, in 1790, Washington gave him sittings for 
two full-length portraits, one in civil costume, now at 
Charleston, S. C, and the other in military uniform, 
now at New Haven. . . Trumbull's aim in painting 
Washington, he says in his memoirs, was " to preserve 

64 



PAINTINGS 

the military character of the great original. . . In the 
countenance of the hero the likenesSy the mere map of 
his face, was not all that was attempted;" his object 
was to give ^' the high resolve stamping on the face and 
attitude the lofty purpose to conquer or to perish." 
Whether, in the effort to render ideal expression, 
Trumbull departed from strict accuracy of feature 
which would satisfy the realist, is an open question. 
His Washington differs from Charles Wilson Peale*s 
two portraits, one painted while Washington was in 
the English service, before the Revolution, and the 
other during the war ; and also from Stuart's portrait, 
painted during Washington's Presidential term, for 
which the artist had sittings five years later than 
Trumbull, in 1795. 



LIST OF HISTORICAL PAINTINGS, POR- 
TRAITS, MINIATURES, AND OTHER 
WORKS OF ART, BY JOHN 

TRUMBULL 

(IN THE TALE SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS, NEW HAVEN, CONN.) 

I Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775: size 
of canvas, 25x36 inches: painted in 1787 : con- 
taining portraits of General Joseph Warren, 
General Israel Putnam — ^Americans; and of 
General Howe, General Clinton, Major Pitcairn, 
Colonel Small, and Lieutenant Pitcairn — British. 

a The Death of Montgomery, in the attack on 
Quebec, December 31, 1775: size of canvas, 
2^x;i6 inches: painted in 1787 : containing por- 
traits of General Montgomery, Major McPher- 
son and Captain Cheesman. 

3 The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 
1776: size of canvas, 20x30 inches: painted 
during the years 1787 to 1795 : containing por- 
traits of George Wythe (Va.) ; William Whip- 
ple (N. H.); Josiah Bartlett (N. H.) ; Benja- 
min Harrison (Va,) ; Thomas Lynch (S. C.) ; 
Richard Henry Lee (Va.); Samuel Adams 
(Mass.); George Clinton (N. Y.); William 

66 



PAINTINGS 

Paca (Md.); Samuel Chase (Md); Lems Mor- 
ris (N. Y.) ; William Floyd (N. Y.) ; Arthur 
Middleton (S. C.) ; Thomas Hayward (S. C.) ; 
Charles Carroll (Md.) ; George Walton (Va.) ; 
Robert Morris (Penna.); Thomas Willing 
(Penna.) ; Benjamin Rush (Penna.) ; Elbridge 
Gerry (Mass.) ; Robert Treat Pdne (Mass.) ; 
Abraham Clark (N. J.) ; Stephen Hopkins 
(R. L) ; William EUery (R. I.) ; George Cly- 
mer (Penna.) ; William Hooper (N. C.) ; Joseph 
Hewes (N. C.) ; James Wilson (Penna.) ; Fran- 
cis Hopkinson (N. J.) ; John Adams (Mass.) ; 
Roger Sherman (Conn.) ; Robert R. Livingston 
(N. Y.) ; Thomas Jefferson (Va.) ; Benjamin 
Franklin (Penna.) ; Richard Stockton (N. J.) ; 
Francis Lewis (N. Y.) ; John Witherspoon 
(N. J.) ; Samuel Huntington (Conn.) ; William 
Williams (Conn.) ; Oliver Wolcott (Conn.) ; 
John Hancock (Mass.); Charles Thompson 
(Penna.) ; George Reed (Del.) ; John Dickinson 
(Del.) ; Edward Rutledge (S. C.) ; Thomas Mc- 
Kean (Penna.) ; and Philip Livingston (N. Y.) ; 
(arranged in the order of the numbering of the 
key.) 
Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, October 19, 
1781 : size, 20x30 inches: painted in 1787, 
containing portraits of Count Deuxponts, Duke 
de Laval Montmorency, Count Custine, Duke 
de Lauzun, General de Choisy, Viscount Vio- 
menil. Marquis de St. Simon, Count Fersen, 
Count Charles Damas, Marquis de Chasteliux, 

67 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

Baron de Viomenil, Count de Barras, Count de 
Grasse, Count Rochambeau, General Lincoln, 
Colonel Ebenezer Stevens, General Washington, 
Thomas Nelson, Marquis de La Fayette, Baron 
Steuben, Colonel Cobb, Colonel Jonathan 
Trumbull, Major-General James Clinton, Gen- 
eral Gist, General Anthony Wayne, General 
Hand, General Peter Muhlenberg, Major- 
General Henry Knox, Lieutenant-Colonel £• 
Huntington, Colonel Timothy Pickering, Colo- 
nel Alexander Hamilton, Colonel John Lau- 
rens, Colonel Walter Stuart and Colonel 
Nicholas Fish (arranged in the order of the key). 

Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, Decem- 
ber 26, 1776: size of canvas, 20x30 inches: 
painted 1795 ^^ ^799* containing portraits of 
Colonel Wigglesworth, Colonel Shepherd, Colo- 
nel Parker, James Monroe^ Colonel Rohl (of the 
Hessians), Colonel William Smith, Colonel Har- 
rison, Colonel Tilghman, General Washington, 
General Sullivan, General Green, General Knox, 
Brigadier-General Philemon Dickerson, Briga- 
dier-General Glover, Brigadier-General Weldon 
and Lieutenant William Washington (in the 
order of the numbering of the key). 

The Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777 : 
size of canvas, 20x30 inches: painted about 
1795 • containing portnuts of Brigadier-General 
Mifflin, Lieutenant Trumbull, Dr. Rush, Colo- 
nel Cadwallader, General Washington, Briga- 
dier-General Mercer, Colonel B. G. Eyre, and 

' 68 



PAINTINGS 

Captain Leslie of the Grenadiers (in the order 
of the key). 
6a Battle of Princeton : spirited sketch in color 
on canvas, 25x36. 

7 Surrender of General Burgoyne, October 16, 

1777 : size, 20x30 inches : containing portrdts 
of Major Lithgow, Colonel Cilley, General 
Stark, Captain Seymour, Major Hull, Colonel 
Greaton, Major Dearborn, Colonel Scammell, 
Colonel Lewis, Major-General Phillips (Brit- 
ish), Lieutenant-General Burgoyne (British), 
General Baron Reidesel (German), Colonel 
Wilkinson, General Gates, Colonel Prescott, 
Colonel Morgan, Brigadier-General Rufus Put- 
nam, Lieutenant-Colonel John Brooks, Rev. 
Mr. Hitchcock (Chaplain), Major Robert 
Troup, Major Haskell, Major Armstrong, 
Major-General Philip Schuyler, Brigadier-Gen- 
eral Glover, Brigadier-General Whipple, Major 
Matthew Clarkson and Major Ebenezer Stevens 
(in the order of the numbering of the key). 

8 Resignation of General Washington, Decern - 

ber 23, 1783 : size, 20x30 inches: containing 
portraits of Thomas Mifflin, Charles Thomson, 
Elbridge Gerry, Hugh Williamson, Samuel 
Osgood, Eleazer McComb, George Partridge, 
Edward Lloyd, Richard D. Spaight, Benjamin 
Hawkins, Abiel Foster, Thomas Jefferson, 
Arthur Lee, David Howell, James Monroe, 
Jacob Reid, James Madison, William EUery, 
Jeremiah T. Chase, Samuel Hardy, Charles 

69 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

Morris, General Washington, Colonel Benjamin 
Walker, Colonel David Humphreys, General 
Smallwood, General Otho H. Williams, Colonel 
Samuel Smith, Colonel John E. Howard,. 
Charles Carroll and two daughters, Mrs. 
Washington and three grandchildren, Daniel 
(of St. Thomas Jennifer) arranged in the order 
of the key. 
9 General George Washington : full-length por- 
trait : size of canvas, 63x92^ inches : painted 
in 1790. 

10 President Washington' : painted at Philadelphia 

in 1793: size of canvas, 24x30 inches. 

1 1 Alexander Hamilton ; copied in 1832 from the 

original painted in 1792 : size of canvas, 24x30 
inches. 

12 The Duke of Wellington. Size of canvas, 

24x32 inches. 

13 Mrs. Trumbull, wife of the artist: size of can- 

vas, 255^x32 inches. 

14 Hon. Stephen Van Rensselaer. Size of can- 

vas, 275^x3 5 J^ inches. 

15 Timothy Dwight, 1792. President of Yale Col- 

lege : size of canvas, 40x50 inches. 

16 Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. Size of 

canvas, 40x50 inches. 

17 RuFus King. Size of canvas, 25x30 inches. 

18 Christopher Gore: painted in 1804: size of 

canvas, 25x30 inches. 

19 Duke of Buckingham. Size of canvas, 28x33 

inches. 

70 



PAINTINGS 
OIL MINIATURES ON WOOD 

20 Henry Laurens, Preset, of Congress, 1791. 

21 John Jay, Chief Justice U. S., 1793- 
!22 John Adams, Vice-Pres., U. S., 1792. 

23 George Hammond, Minister from Great Britain, 

1792. 

24 Temple Franklin, grandson of Dr. Franklin, 1791. 

25 Nathanael Greene, Brigadier-General, 1792. 

26 Col. William Hull, 1792. 

27 Col. Thomas Stevens, 1791. 

28 Capt Thomas Seymour, 1792. 

29 Gen. John Brooks, 1790. 

30 Rufus King, U. S. Senator, 1792. 

31 Fisher Ames, M. C, 1792. 

32 The Infant, a chiefof theSix Nations, 1792. 
32 John Langdon, U. S. Senator, 1792. 

34 John Brown, U. S. Rep., 1792. 

25 Harriet Wadsworth, 1791. 

26 Faith Trumbull, 1791. 

37 Mrs. Trumbull, Lebanon, Conn., 1793. 

38 Catherine Wadsworth, 1792. 

39 Julia Seymour, 1792. 

40 Signr. Cerracchi, Sculptor, 1792. 

41 T. Dal ton, U. S. Senator, 1792. 

42 The Young Sachem, a chief of the Six Nations, 

1792. 

43 Theo. Sedgwick, M. C, 1791. 

44 Oliver Ellsworth, U. S. Senator, 1792. 

45 Gen. O. H. Williams, 1790; 

46 Thomas Pinckney, 1791. 

71 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

47 Ju^c Rutledge, i79i- 

48 Charles C. Pinckney, 1791. 
.9 Gen. Wm. Moultrie, 1791- 
;o William Smith, M. C, 1792. 

1 Rufus Putnam, Brig.-Gen., 1790. 

2 Jacob Reed, M. C, 1790. 
;3 R. Izard, U. S. Senator, 1791. 
;4 Col. Grimke, 1791. 
:5 Eleanor Cusds, 1792* 
;6 Cornelia Schuyler, 1792. 

7 Mrs. Washington, 1792. 

8 Sophia Chew, 1793. 
;9 Harriet Chew, 1793. 

60 Brig.-Gen. Smallwood, 1792. 

61 Maj. Haskell, 1791. 

62 Col. Morgan of the Rifle Corps, 1792. 

63 Judge £• Benson, M. C, 1792. 

64 Philip Schuyler, Maj.-Gen., 1792. 

65 Jonathan Trumbull, Speaker of U. S. House of 

Rep's., 1792. 

66 Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., Governor of Connecticut 

during the Revolution. 

67 Good Peter, a chief of the Six Nations. 

68 Dr. Lemuel Hopkins of Hartford, Ct., Poet and 

Physician, 1793. 

69 John Trumbull, Author of " McFingal," 1794. 

70 Judge Oakley, 1827. 

71 Henry Dwight, M. C, 1827. 

72 J. C. Calhoun, V. Pres., U. S., 1827. 

73 Dr. Allen, 1827. 

74 D. B. Ogden, 1827. 

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PAINTINGS 

75 Maj.-Gen. Mifflin, Pres. of Cong,, 1783. 

76 S. Livermore, U. S. Senator, 1791. 

77 Capt. Manning, 1791. 

78 Gen. Richard Butler, 1790. 

79 Arthur Lee, 1790. 



80 The Woman taken in Adultery : size of canvas, 

72x96 inches: painted in London, 1808-1812. 

8 1 St. John and Lamb : from memory of picture by 

Murillo. 

82 The Earl of Angus conferring Knighthood on De 

Wilton ; size of canvas, 72x90 inches ; painted 
in London, 1808-18 12. (Sir Walter Scott's 
" Marmion.") 

83 Holy Family. 

84 Infant Saviour and St. John. 

85 Lamderg and Gelchossa, Ossian's poem. Size of 

canvas, 60x90 inches. 

86 Maternal Tenderness. 

87 Our Saviour with Little Children : size of canvas, 

68x96 inches, painted in London, 1808-18 12. 

88 Peter the Great at the Capture of Narva. 

89 The Holy Family, Virgin and Infant Saviour, and 

Joseph the Carpenter, St. John with his Lamb : 
copy. 

90 Joshua at the Battle of Ai, attended by Death. 

91 The Last Family who Perished in the Deluge. 

92 ''I was in Prison and ye came unto me." 

93 ^^py of the Transfiguration by Raphael. 

5^ Copy of Correggio's picture called St. Jerome at 
Parma. (Painted in Tothill Fields Prison, 

73 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

near London, where the artist was confined on 
charge of High Treason during the winter of 
1781.) 

95 ^^py ^^ ^^ " Madonna della Sedia," painted 

under direction of Mr. West. 

96 Copy of Domenichino's Communion of St Je- 

rome. 

97 Preparing the Body of our Saviour for the Tomb. 

98 Copy of Raphael's Madonna au Corset Rouge. 

99 Our Saviour Bearing the Cross and sinking un- 

der its weight. 
100 The Death of Paulus ^milius at the Battle of 
Canne. (Painted at Lebanon, i774> ^t the age 
of eighteen, before the artist had received any 
instruction. The composition is all that is or- 
iginal ; the figures were chosen from various en- 
gravings.) 



PORTRAITS AND PICTURES IN OTHER 

COLLECTIONS 

Portrait of Washington: full-length: City Hall, 

New York City. 
Alexander Hamilton: full-length: City Hall, New 

York. 
General George Clinton: full-length: City Hall, 

New York. 
John Jay : full-length : City Hall, New York. 
Sortie from Gibraltar, November 27, 1871. Owned 

by the Boston Athenaeum : now in the Boston 

Museum of Art: size, 72x108 inches. There 

74 



PAINTINGS 

are five known replicas of this picture, all of 

different sizes. 
Portrait of Alexander Hamilton: Metropolitan 

Museum of Art, New York. 
Portrait of Alexander Hamilton : Boston Muse- 
um of Art. 
Portrait of Alexander Hamilton: Mrs. Henry 

Cabot, Boston. Owned by Mrs. Pendleton, 

Hosack, N. Y. 
Stephen Minot : Boston Museum of Art. 
Mrs. Stephen Minot : Boston Museum of Art. 
Governor Lewis : City Hall, New York. 
Sortie from Gibraltar, canvas, 36x44 : owned by 

Mr. William A. Burnham, of Boston. 
Sortie from Gibraltar : given to Benjamin West : 

whereabouts now unknown. 
Replica made for William Sharp to engrave from, 

owned by Robert O'Neill, Wickersham. 
Sortie from Gibraltar, 26x36 : owned by Mr. J. 

M. Fox, of Philadelphia. 
Replica of Battle of Bunker's Hill : owned by the 

Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Conn. (The 

series at Hartford were painted about 1832.) 

Size, 72x108 inches. 
Replica of the Battle of Trenton : owned by the 

Wadsworth Athenaeum. Size, 72x108 inches : 

painted late in life. 
Replica of the Battle of Princeton : owned by the 

Wadsworth Athenaeum. Size, 72x108 inches : 

painted late in life. 
Replica of the Declaration of Independence: 

75 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

owned by the Wadsworth Atheneum. Size, 

72x108 : painted late in life* 
Replica of the Death of Montgomery : owned by 

the Wadsworth Athenaeum. 
Holy Family : owned by the Wadsworth Athenaeum. 
Col. Wadsworth and His Son: 1784: replica: 

Wadsworth Athenaeum. 
Col. Samuel Osgood, owned by M. Augustus Field, 

of New York. 
Mrs. Samuel Osgood, owned by M. Augustus Field, 

of New York. 
Jonathan Trumbull Hudson : owned by Mrs. 

Elizabeth McK. Hudson, Stratford, Conn. 
Mrs. J. T. Hudson : owned by Mrs. Elizabeth McK. 

Hudson, Stratford, Conn. 
Miniature: owned by Robert W. DeForest, New 

York. 
Hon. Thos. Russell and His Wife, afterward Lady 

Temple : owned by Mr. Richard Sullivan, of 

Boston. 
Mrs. George Codwise (Miss Van Rantz) : owned by 

Mrs. Beatrice Codwise. 
Mrs. James Codwise (Miss Rogers) : owned by Mrs. 

Beatrice Codwise. 
Mrs. Trumbull on her death-bed : owned by Mrs. 

Lanman, Norwich, Conn. 
John M. Trumbull, nephew of Col. Trumbull : 

painted in London, in the artist's best manner : 

owned by Wm. H. Lee, Minneapolis, Minn. 
Portrait : owned by Mrs. Augustus B. Field, of 

New York. 

76 



PAINTINGS 

Portrait : owned by Mrs. Augustus B. Field, of 
New York. 

Portrait: owned by Miss Anna Eddy, of Eddys- 
ville, Mass. 

Portrait : owned by Miss Anna Eddy, of Eddys- 
ville, Mass. 

John Trumbull: painted in 1833: owned by Mrs. 
Benjamin Silliman, New York. 

Rev. D. Smalley : owned by the Historical Society, 
New York. 

AsHER B. DuRAND : owned by the Historical Society, 
New York. 

Bryan Rossiter (in military uniform) painted in 1790 : 
owned by the Historical Society, New York 
City. 

Miniature of John Lawrence, owned by the His- 
torical Society, New York. 

John Pintard : painted in 18 16. 

President Washington, National Museum, Wash- 
ington, D. C. 

Mrs. Washington, National Museum, Washington, 
D. C. 

Original Study for Portrait of Washington and his 
horse : size, 1S^33 • owned by Mr. Fernando 
Jones, Chicago, 111. 

Portrait: deposited in the Museum of the Brooklyn 
Institute. 

Brutus (earlyattempt):Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hart- 
ford, Conn. 

The Falls of Niagara : 2 studies : Wadsworth 
Athenaeum, Hartford, Conn. 

77 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

Mrs. L. H. Sigourney : size, 25x30 : Wadsworth 

Athenaeum. 
Gov. AND Mrs. Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. : size, 

50x40 : Wadsworth Athenaeum. 
Copy of Rubens' Elevation of the Cross: size, 

42^x59)^ : Wadsworth Athenaeum. 
Portrait of an Artist : size, 25x30 (one of his best 

portraits) : Wadsworth Athenaeum. 
Copy of Titian's Scourging of Christ: size, 

285^x45^ : Wadsworth Athenaeum. 
The Duke of Wellington : Wadsworth Athenaeum. 
Gen. David Humphreys : size, 20x24 : Wadsworth 

Athenaeum. 
Gov. Jonathan Trumbull : size, 20x24 : Wadsworth 

Athenaeum. 
Infant Saviour and St. John : figures copied from 

Raphael : size, 25x30 : Wadsworth Athenaeum. 
Mrs. Lynde: owned by Mrs. Susan L. Oliver, of 

Boston. 
Mrs. Christopher Gore : owned by Mrs. Samuel T. 

Morse, of Boston. 
Small Full-Length of Washington : Size, 25x30 ; 

painted in London ; probably the one done 

from memory: owned by Mr. Charles A. 

Munn, New York. Formerly belonged to M. 

de Neufville, of Amsterdam : Engraved by 

Valentine Green. 
Mrs. Nathaniel Prime : owned by Mr. Francis C. 

Lowell, of Boston. 
Lady of the Lake : owned by Mr. Wm. C. Lan- 

man, Norwich, Conn. 

78 



PAINTINGS 

Mr. George Gallagher: owned by Dr. Geo. G. 
Hopkins^ Brooklyn, N. Y. 

Portrait, owned by Mrs. Edward B. Huntington, 
Norwich, Conn. 

Portrait, owned by Mrs. Edward B. Huntington, 
Norwich, Conn. 

Thomas Russell, Esq., owned by Mr. Richard Sulli- 
van, Boston. 

Mrs. Thomas Russell, owned by Mr. Richard Sulli- 
van, Boston. 

The Declaration of Independence: size, 12x18 
feet : in the Rotunda of the Capitol, Washing- 
ton, D. C. 

The Surrender of Burgoyne: size, 12x18 feet: in 
the Rotunda of the Capitol, Washington, D. C. 

The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis: size, iaxi8 
feet : in the Rotunda of the Capitol, Washing- 
ton, D. C. 

Washington Resigning His Commission : size, 
12x18 feet: in the Rotunda of the Capitol, 
Washington, D. C. 

(These four pictures were commissioned by Congress 
in 1 816 and the last was completed in 1824.) 

Portrait of a Lady : Lenox Library, N. Y. 

Priam and the Body of Hector : Boston Athe- 
naeum. 

Portrait of Mr. Rogers: owned by Mr. Ward 
Hunt. 

Portrait OF Judge Samuel Miles Hopkins: size, 
40x50 inches : owned by Dr. Geo. G. Hopkins, 
Brooklyn, N. Y. 

79 



JOHN TRUMBULL 

Mrs. Sarah Elizabeth Hopkins: owned by Dr. 

Geo. G. Hopkins, Brooklyn, N. Y. 
Dr. Lemuel Hopkins : owned by Dr. Geo. G. 

Hopkins, Brooklyn, N. Y. 
Francis Taylor Winthrop : owned by Mrs. Deane 

Pratt, Saybrook, Conn. 
Mrs. F. T. Winthrop: owned by Mrs. Deane 

Pratt, Saybrook, Conn. 



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