Trumbull, John (1756-1843)


Taught school in Connecticut. Joined the Continental army at the outbreak of the American Revolution. Became an aide-de-camp to George Washington.

Went to France and received from Franklin a letter of introduction to Benjamin West (1780). Studied under West in London until November 1780, when he was arrested on suspicion of treason. Powerful friends quickly secured his release and Trumbull made his way to Spain.

Returned to England to study again with West (1783).

Dedicated the rest of his life to the painting of historical subjects. Perhaps most famous for his representation of the “Declaration of Independence,” he is sometimes referred to as the “painter of the Revolution.”

Though often in Europe, Trumbull spent most of his later years in New York, and became president of the American Academy of Fine Arts in 1817. His remains are interred beneath the Yale University Art Gallery.

Born in Lebanon, Connecticut, son of Jonathan Trumbull. Lost most of the vision in one eye in a childhood accident. Graduated from Harvard (1773). Married Sarah (Hope) Harvey in 1800.