Trumbull, John


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Trumbull, John,

1750–1831, American poet, b. Westbury (now Watertown), Conn. He passed the entrance examinations to Yale when he was seven, but did not enter until he was thirteen. While tutoring at Yale he wrote The Progress of Dulness (1772–73), a satire on educational follies. In 1773 he entered the law office of John Adams and was drawn into the political fervor of his times, writing the bombastic An Elegy of the Times (1774) and the mock-epic burlesque of Tory politics, M'Fingal (1775–82). One of the Connecticut WitsConnecticut Wits
or Hartford Wits,
an informal association of Yale students and rectors formed in the late 18th cent. At first they were devoted to the modernization of the Yale curriculum and declaring the independence of American letters.
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, he contributed to the Anarchiad and the Echo and was an ardent Federalist.

Trumbull, John,

1756–1843, American painter, b. Lebanon, Conn.; son of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull. He served in the Continental Army early in the Revolution as an aide to Washington. He resigned his commission in 1777 and devoted himself to painting. In 1780 he went to London to study under Benjamin West. There he was imprisoned on suspicion of treason and finally deported. In 1784 he returned to London, where, at the suggestion of West and with the encouragement of Thomas Jefferson, he began his famous national history, which occupied most of his life. His small paintings (for the engraver) at Yale Univ., such as the Battle of Bunker's Hill (1786) and Death of Montgomery at Quebec (1788), are among his finest works. Trumbull excelled in small-scale painting, especially of oil miniatures (studies for the historical series), the best of which were done in the United States between 1789 and 1793. In the latter year he returned to London as secretary to John Jay and remained for 10 years as one of the commissioners to carry out provisions of the Jay Treaty. He returned to the United States in 1804 with a collection of old masters. He painted portraits, panoramas, and landscapes, and designed the meetinghouse in Lebanon, Conn. In London from 1808 to 1816 he tried unsuccessfully to establish himself as a fashionable portraitist. Returning to New York in 1816, he finally secured a commission from Congress to decorate the Capitol rotunda; his Declaration of Independence, Surrender of General Burgoyne, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, and General George Washington Resigning His Commission are of interest chiefly for their documentary value. In 1831 he founded the Trumbull Gallery at Yale, one of the earliest art museums in the English-speaking colonies, depositing much of his work in exchange for an annuity. He is well represented in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Conn.; Yale Univ.; and the Metropolitan Museum, New York City Hall, and the New-York Historical Society.

Bibliography

See his autobiography (1841; new ed., by T. Sizer, 1953); studies by T. Sizer (1950 and 1967).

Trumbull, John

 

Born June 6, 1756, in Lebanon, Conn.; died Nov. 10, 1843, in New York City. American painter. Pupil of B. West in London.

Trumbull was one of G. Washington’s aides-de-camp during the American Revolution (1775–83). From 1794 to 1804 and from 1808 to 1815 he lived in London. From 1817 to 1836 he headed the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York. Trumbull painted small, accurate portraits of personalities in the struggle for independence (R. Izard, 1793, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven). His works also include patriotic historical paintings devoted to contemporary themes. Traditional academic composition and theatrical movement were combined in Trumbull’s historical paintings with a sense of heartfelt enthusiasm and with realistic depiction of figures (Battle of Bunker’s Hill, The Declaration of Independence, both 1786–94, Yale University Art Gallery).

REFERENCE

Sizer, T. The Works of Colonel John Trumbull, Artist of the American Revolution. New Haven, 1950.

Trumbull, John

(1756–1834) painter; born in Lebanon, Conn. (son of Jonathan Trumbull (1710–85)). He served intermittently in the Continental Army (1775–77, 1778) but spent most of the years 1777–79 studying art in Boston. He went to London to study with Benjamin West (1780); he was briefly imprisoned in retribution for the hanging of Major Andre as a spy. Released from prison, he went to Amsterdam and painted a full-length portrait of George Washington; its engraved version gave Europeans their first view of the American Revolution's leader. He returned to the U.S.A. (1782–83) and then went back to Benjamin West (1783–89). He returned to America (1789–94), was John Jay's private secretary (1793–94), and then returned to England (1794–1804). He established a studio in New York (1804–08), then returned to London (1808–15), and finally settled in New York City (1815). During these years he tended to specialize in portraits that are an authentic, if not especially stylish, record of the age. In 1817 he was commissioned to paint four pictures for the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol; his Surrender of General Burgoyne at Saratoga, Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Declaration of Independence, and Resignation of Washington, were completed in 1824. Although not as impressive as some of his other works (including the original smaller versions), these works established him as the artist of the American Revolution—millions of American schoolchildren have seen the Revolution through his eyes.

Trumbull, John

(1750–1831) poet, lawyer; born in Watertown, Conn. (second cousin of Jonathan Trumbull). Extremely precocious as a child, he studied at Yale (B.A. 1767; M.A. 1770) and taught there (1771–73). He then studied law with John Adams (1773), practiced law in New Haven and Hartford (1774–1825), and was a judge of the Connecticut state courts (1801–19). He was associated with the "Hartford (or Connecticut) Wits," an informal group, Federalist in their politics but promoting a new American spirit in their writing; although he published a number of satirical essays and poems, he is known today solely for one work, M'Fingle (1775–82), a burlesque epic poem satirizing the pro-British Tories in America.
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