John Trumbull: Painting the Revolution

Tuesday, May 24, AD 2011

In an age before photography, America was fortunate to have a painter of the skill of John Trumbull to give us a visual narrative of those stirring days and portraits of so many of the participants.  A veteran of the American Revolution, serving as an aide to George Washington and deputy adjutant general to Horation Gates, Trumbull painted with one eye, having lost sight in the other as a result of a childhood accident.

Some of the more notable paintings of Trumbull are:

Trumbull allowed future generations of Americans to visualize these scenes of the birth of their nation.  Of course, the man was not without his critics:

4 Responses to John Trumbull: Painting the Revolution

  • Thank you Kurt. The clip from the John Adams’ miniseries is my favorite from the whole series. It skillfully combines both humor and melancholy and conveys the hard, perhaps impossible, task of every truly understanding a vast historical event like the American Revolution unless one lived through it.

  • The miniseries was fantastic. I watched it all.

    And I walk by the Trumbull painting frequently. It is impossible not to pause and reflect on it, even if it be ahistorical.

  • The advantage of a great painting is that even if it is ahistorical it can convey an underlying truth about an event depicted, in a similar manner to the way in which a great historical novel, Gironella’s trilogy on the Spanish Civil War for example, can convey the passion and fervor of a period of history missing from a dry chronicle of events.