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Col. John Trumbull

Painter of the American Revolution

    Col. John Trumbull (1756-1843) was a famous American patriot and a painter.  The elder Trumbull was also trained in England, like Ball Hughes, and befriended him after Ball Hughes arrived in New York and opened a studio.  Ball Hughes relied on Trumbull for financial support during his early years in New York and had to borrow money from him to pay his bills. See A Ball Hughes Correspondence for letters from the Ball Hughes to Col. Trumbull asking for financial help in the early 1830's.

    According to Susan James-Gadzinski and Mary Mullen Cunningham in American Sculpture in the Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1997, p. 28:  "Hughes immigrated to the United States in 1829 and settled in New York.  He was enthusiastically received there and was befriended by the president of the American Academy of the Fine Arts, the painter John Trumbull.  Sculpture commissions were scarce in the United States at this time, however, and Hughes soon discovered competition and poor renumeration.  Even Trumbull paid him inadequately for the portrait bust made of him about 1834."  See Bust of John Trumbull.

    In 1833, Ball Hughes was elected a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of the Fine Arts, of which Trumbull was President at the time.

    In 1834, Ball Hughes sculpted a marble bust of John Trumbull that is at the Yale University Art Gallery.  Trumbull painted an oil Portrait of Robert Ball Hughes and a companion Portrait of Eliza Ball Hughes in 1830 or 1839.  Ball Hughes designed the obverse of a bronze medallion of John Trumbull for the American Art-Union in 1849.

    Trumbull moved from New York to live with his niece, Harriet Stillman, and her husband in 1837 according to John Trumbull, Patriot-Artist of the American Revolution, by Irma B. Jaffe. Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1975, pp. 285-286. 

    According to Jaffe, Trumbull entertained illustrious guests at the Stillman home who were pleased to meet the artist who had personally known George Washington.  Jaffe records that "To the end he was "ladies' man," as Mrs. Ball Hughes called him, and often invited women acquaintances to join the company."  In 1841, he returned to New York where lived the rest of his life.

    See a biography of Ball Hughes, by David B. Dearinger, that mentions Trumbull and the American Academy of the Fine Arts at Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of the National Academy of Design, Volume 1, 1826-1925, New York, NY: Hudson Hills Press, (National Academy of Design), 2004, p. 288. 

    See Alexander Hamilton Statue for document with Trumbull's signature.


Books about John Trumbull:

John Trumbull: A Brief Sketch of His Life, John F. Weir, 1901, New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, available through Google Books.

John Trumbull: Patriot-Artist of the American Revolution, Irma B. Jaffe, 1975, Boston: New York Graphic Society, available for purchase from Amazon.com.

John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter, Helen A. Cooper, 1982, New Haven: Yale University Press.

See also John Trumbull at Virtualology.com for more information.


last update 12/2/2011

For noncommercial use, Copyright David E. Brown 2008-2011

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