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John Trumbull
John Trumbull
American, 1756 - 1843
Biography: John Trumbull was born in Lebanon, Connecticut on 6 June 1756. He was the youngest child of Gov. Jonathan Trumbull and Faith Robinson Trumbull. He graduated Harvard in 1773 at the age of fifteen. During the Revolution, he served as adjutant to Gen. Joseph Spencer of the 1st Connecticut Regiment, and then as second aide-de-camp to the new commanding general. He was commissioned major of brigade in August 1775, and he participated in the action at Dorchester Heights the following March. On June 28, 1776, he became deputy adjutant-general with the rank of colonel under Gen. Horatio Gates, going with him to Crown Point and Ticonderoga, and later into Pennsylvania. He also went to Rhode Island with Gen. Benedict Arnold, wintering in Providence. In the summer of 1778 he volunteered to be an aide-de-camp to Gen. John Sullivan. In 1780 he went to London, and became a pupil of Benjamin West's. On Nov. 19, 1780, Trumbull was arrested "on suspicion of treason." His imprisonment was said to be a reprisal for the hanging of Major André. Following his release from prison in 1780, Trumbull immediately crossed to the Continent, where he attempted to negotiate a loan for Connecticut. He painted a full-length portrait of Washington (1780) that was engraved and published in 1781, the first authentic portrait of Washington issued in Europe. By 1783, he was back in America, but by Dec. 1783, Trumbull returned to London where he worked in West's studio during the day and attended the Royal Academy school evenings. He continued to paint in England and America through 1793, when at the request of John Jay, envoy to Great Britain, Trumbull became his private secretary. The mission started in New York in May 1794, and the complicated negotiations were completed in November. Trumbull committed Jay's Treaty to memory, and went to Paris to repeat it to Monroe. From August 1796 to May 1804, Trumbull served as the fifth member of the commission to oversee the execution of the seventh article of the Jay Treaty. He lived in Bath in 1801 and 1802, and married and Englishwoman, Sarah (Hope) Harvey, Oct. 1, 1800. They returned to America and Trumbull painted four Revolutionary War paintings for the Rotunda of the Capitol. In 1817, he was elected president American Academy of Fine Arts. Trumbull's nephew by marriage, Prof. Benjamin Silliman of Yale College, induced friends to fianance an annuity of one thousand dollars on condition that Trumbull's collection be turned over to Yale, which agreed to erect a gallery after the artist's design. The Trumbull Gallery, the earliest art museum connected with an educational institution in America, was opened to the public in October 1832. In 1841 Trumbull published his autobiography, and he died on 10 November 1843. According to his instructions, he was buried beside his wife beneath the Trumbull Gallery.