Tuesday, October 23, 2012
John Trumbull 1756–1843, American painter, was the son of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull of Connecticut. He served in the Continental Army early in the Revolution as an aide to Washington. He resigned his commission in 1777, to devote 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 paintings of national history. Trumbull excelled in small-scale painting, especially of oil miniatures, the best of which were done in the United States between 1789 & 1793. In the latter year, he returned to London as secretary to John Jay & 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, where he painted portraits, panoramas, and landscapes, & designed the meetinghouse in Lebanon, Conn. In London from 1808 to 1816, he tried unsuccessfully to establish himself as a portraitist. Returning to New York in 1816, he secured a commission from Congress to decorate the Capitol rotunda. 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 there in exchange for an annuity.