Declaration of Independence (Trumbull)

Last updated
Declaration of Independence
Declaration of Independence (1819), by John Trumbull.jpg
Artist John Trumbull
Yearcommissioned 1817; purchased 1819;
date of creation 1818;
1826 placed in the Rotunda
MediumOil-on-canvas
Dimensions3.7 m× 5.5 m(12 ft× 18 ft)
Location U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., U.S.

Declaration of Independence is a 12-by-18-foot (3.7 by 5.5 m) oil-on-canvas painting by American John Trumbull depicting the presentation of the draft of the Declaration of Independence to Congress. It was based on a much smaller version of the same scene, presently held by the Yale University Art Gallery. [1] Trumbull painted many of the figures in the picture from life, and visited Independence Hall to depict the chamber where the Second Continental Congress met. The oil-on-canvas work was commissioned in 1817, purchased in 1819, and placed in the United States Capitol rotunda in 1826.

Contents

The painting is sometimes incorrectly described as the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The painting shows the five-man drafting committee presenting their draft of the Declaration to the Congress, an event that took place on June 28, 1776, and not the signing of the document, which took place later. [2]

The painting shows 42 of the 56 signers of the Declaration; Trumbull originally intended to include all 56 signers but was unable to obtain likenesses for all of them. He also depicted several participants in the debate who did not sign the document, including John Dickinson, who declined to sign. Trumbull had no portrait of Benjamin Harrison V to work with, but his son Benjamin Harrison VI was said to resemble his father, so Trumbull painted him instead. Similarly, Trumbull painted Rufus Hopkins, who resembled his father Stephen Hopkins, for whom no portrait was available. As the Declaration was debated and signed over a period of time when membership in Congress changed, the men featured in the painting never were in the same room at the same time.

In the painting, Thomas Jefferson appears to be stepping on John Adams' foot, which many thought was supposed to symbolize their relationship as friendly rivals. However, upon closer examination of the painting, it can be seen that their feet are merely close together. This part of the image was correctly depicted on the two-dollar bill version.

Three British ensigns and a single English ensign can be seen hanging on the farthest wall in the painting, though this is not depicted in all versions, most notably the one seen on the two-dollar bill.

Key to historical figures depicted in the painting

Trumbull's Declaration of Independence
Clickable image: Point at a face to identify the person, click to go to the corresponding article.
Click anywhere else in the image to go to the image's file page and view a larger version. Declaration of Independence (1819), by John Trumbull.jpgBenjamin HarrisonGeorge ClintonCharles CarrollRobert MorrisStephen HopkinsJames WilsonRobert LivingstonRichard StocktonSamuel HuntingtonWilliam WilliamsGeorge ReadJohn Dickinson
Trumbull's Declaration of Independence
Mano cursor.svg Clickable image:Point at a face to identify the person, click to go to the corresponding article.
Click anywhere else in the image to go to the image's file page and view a larger version.
U.S. government's key to the painting KeyTrumbullsDeclarationofIndependence1.jpg
U.S. government's key to the painting

The following key to the 47 figures in the painting follows the numbering used by the U.S. government publication "Art of the Capitol" (in the illustration of the key shown in this section) but provides a different (hopefully clearer) description of which figure is where in the painting, so numbers are not entirely in order.

Key to figures (in each group, listed from left to right):

Four men seated on the far left:

Seated at the table on the left:

Seated together to the right of Harrison and in front of the standing figures:

Five figures standing together on the left:

Three seated figures in the back between the two sets of standing figures:

Set of three figures standing together in the back:

Ten figures seated:

Five figures standing in front (the Committee of Five):

Four background figures seated together near the right corner of the room:

Two figures standing in the right corner of the room:

Two foreground figures at the central table:

Three figures standing at right:

Two figures seated at far right:

(Note:Dagger-14-plain.png - Not a signer of the final Declaration of Independence but depicted in painting. Although Charles Thomson was one of two members listed by name in the earlier Dunlap Broadside as having attested to the Declaration, and many historians believe he had signed the original document that was lost. Clinton was not present at the signing of the Declaration.)

Unpainted signers

There were 14 signers of the Declaration who did not appear in the painting:


On U.S. currency and postage stamps

The painting was pictured on an 1869 United States 24-cent definitive postage stamp Signing of Declaration 1869 Issue-24c.jpg
The painting was pictured on an 1869 United States 24-cent definitive postage stamp

Trumbull's Declaration of Independence signing scene painting has been depicted several times on United States currency and postage stamps. It was first used on the reverse side of the $100 National Bank Note that was issued in 1863. [3] The depiction was engraved by Frederick Girsch of the American Bank Note Company. [4] The same steel engraving was used on the 24¢ stamp issued six years later as part of the 1869 pictorial series of definitive U.S. postage stamps. [5]

Trumbull's painting is presently depicted on the reverse of the two-dollar bill. Featured in it are 40 of the 47 figures from Trumbull's painting. Cut out from the scene are: the farthest four figures on the left—George Wythe, William Whipple, Josiah Bartlett, and Thomas Lynch, Jr.; the farthest two figures on the right—Thomas McKean and Philip Livingston; and one of three figures seated in the left rear—George Walton. Additionally, two unrecognized figures were added: one in between Samuel Chase and Lewis Morris and another between James Wilson and Francis Hopkinson, bringing the total number of figures shown in this presentation scene to 42.

US-NBN-NC-Raleigh-1557-Orig-100-761-A (reverse).jpg
1863 United States 100-dollar National Bank Note (reverse)
US $2 reverse.jpg
1976 United States two-dollar bill (reverse)

Other versions

The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, John Trumbull, (1786-1820), Yale University Art Gallery John Trumbull - The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 - 1832.3 - Yale University Art Gallery.jpg
The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, John Trumbull, (1786–1820), Yale University Art Gallery

Trumbull painted a smaller version (only 20.875 by 31 inches (53.02 cm × 78.74 cm)) entitled The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 (1786–1820) that is now on view at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. [1]

Legacy and interpretations

In 2017, the company Ancestry.com restaged the painting with the 29 living descendants of the men depicted in Trumbull's painting as part of an advertising campaign called “Declaration Descendants". [6] [7] The campaign included two short films and ran on digital and social media platforms. Shannon Lanier, the sixth great-grandson of Thomas Jefferson, said: “When you see the new picture, the new image, it’s a picture of diverse people. Black, white, Hispanic, Native American—a little bit of everything—Asian, and that’s more of a representation of this country". [8]

In September 2019 Arlen Parsa, a filmmaker from Chicago, published an image of the painting with red dots covering the faces of those that enslaved people to his twitter account. [note 1] Parsa's research identified 34 of the 47 men depicted as slave holders, this was fact-checked by PolitiFact who rated the statement as "true". PolitiFact stated "We found strong evidence to back the claim on the 34, recognizing there is no one definitive source on the question." [9]

The 34 men depicted who were enslavers are:

  1. Josiah Bartlett
  2. Charles Carroll
  3. Samuel Chase
  4. Abraham Clark
  5. George Clinton
  6. John Dickinson
  7. William Floyd
  8. Benjamin Franklin
  9. John Hancock
  10. Benjamin Harrison
  11. Joseph Hewes
  12. Thomas Heyward Jr.
  13. William Hooper
  14. Stephen Hopkins
  15. Francis Hopkinson
  16. Thomas Jefferson
  17. Richard Henry Lee
  18. Francis Lewis
  19. Philip Livingston
  20. Robert R. Livingston
  21. Thomas Lynch
  22. Arthur Middleton
  23. Lewis Morris
  24. Robert Morris
  25. William Paca
  26. George Read
  27. Benjamin Rush
  28. Edward Rutledge
  29. Richard Stockton
  30. William Whipple
  31. Thomas Willing
  32. John Witherspoon
  33. Oliver Wolcott
  34. George Wythe

See also

Notes

Related Research Articles

United States Declaration of Independence 1776 assertion of colonial Americas independence from Great Britain

The United States Declaration of Independence is the pronouncement adopted by the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on July 4, 1776. The Declaration explained why the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain regarded themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America. The declaration was signed by representatives from New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

George Clymer

George Clymer was an American politician and Founding Father of the United States. He was one of the first Patriots to advocate complete independence from Britain, and like many of his peers, a slaveowner. As a Pennsylvania representative, Clymer was, along with five others, a signatory of both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. He attended the Continental Congress, and served in political office until the end of his life.

Francis Lewis

Francis Lewis was a Welsh merchant and signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New York.

William Whipple

William Whipple Jr. was a signatory of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of New Hampshire and a member of the Continental Congress from 1776 through 1779. He worked as both a ship's captain and a merchant, and he studied in college to become a judge. He died of heart complications in 1785, aged 55.

John Trumbull American artist and Revolutionary War veteran

John Trumbull was an American artist of the early independence period, notable for his historical paintings of the American Revolutionary War, of which he was a veteran. He has been called "The Painter of the Revolution".

Founding Fathers of the United States Group of Americans who led the revolution against Great Britain

The Founding Fathers of the United States, or simply the Founding Fathers or Founders, were a group of American leaders who united the Thirteen Colonies, led the war for independence from Great Britain, and built a frame of government for the new United States of America upon republican principles during the latter decades of the 18th century.

Christ Church Burial Ground United States historic place

Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia is an important early-American cemetery. It is the final resting place of Benjamin Franklin and his wife, Deborah. Four other signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried here, Benjamin Rush, Francis Hopkinson, Joseph Hewes and George Ross. Two more signers are buried at Christ Church just a few blocks away.

<i>Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States</i> 1940 painting by Howard Chandler Christy

Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States is a 1940 oil-on-canvas painting by Howard Chandler Christy, depicting the Constitutional Convention signing the U.S. Constitution at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787. Along with Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, the painting is one of the most famous depictions of the early days of the United States. Christy created the painting in April 1940; it is so large that he painted it in a sail loft. It currently is displayed along the east stairway in the House of Representatives wing in the Capitol building.

Syng inkstand

The Syng inkstand is a silver inkstand used during the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the United States Constitution in 1787. Besides paper documents, it is one of four still-existing objects that were present during the Constitutional Convention, along with the Liberty Bell, the chair that George Washington sat in as the Constitutional Convention's presiding officer, and Independence Hall itself.

Pennsylvania in the American Revolution

Pennsylvania was the site of key events and places related to the American Revolution. The state, and especially the city of Philadelphia, played a critical role in the American Revolution.

Christ Church, Philadelphia United States historic place

Christ Church is an Episcopal church in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia. Founded in 1695 as a parish of the Church of England, it played an integral role in the founding of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. In 1785, its rector, William White, became the first Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Benjamin Harrison VI

Benjamin Harrison VI (1755–1799) was an American merchant, planter, politician, and revolutionary. He was the son of Founding Father Benjamin Harrison V, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Harrison was a close friend of financier Robert Morris, a relationship that he would keep until his death. He was the older brother of President William Henry Harrison and the great-uncle of President Benjamin Harrison.

Brumidi Corridors

The Brumidi Corridors are the vaulted, ornately decorated corridors on the first floor of the Senate wing in the United States Capitol.

Joseph Hopkinson American politician, Representative from Pennsylvania and United States District Judge (1770-1842)

Joseph Hopkinson was a United States Representative from Pennsylvania and a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Events from the year 1791 in the United States.

<i>Congress Voting Independence</i>

Congress Voting Independence is a painting by Robert Edge Pine showing the interior of Independence Hall, Philadelphia, and contains the portraits of most of the signers of the United States Declaration of Independence. The artist worked on the painting from 1784 until his death in 1788. The painting is unfinished. It currently is held in Independence Hall, Philadelphia.

Signing of the United States Declaration of Independence

The signing of the United States Declaration of Independence occurred primarily on August 2, 1776 at the Pennsylvania State House, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The 56 delegates to the Second Continental Congress represented the 13 former colonies which had declared themselves the "United States of America," and they endorsed the Declaration of Independence which the Congress had approved on July 4, 1776. The Declaration proclaimed that the former Thirteen Colonies then at war with Great Britain were now a sovereign, independent nation and thus no longer a part of the British Empire. The signers’ names are grouped by state, with the exception of President of the Continental Congress John Hancock; the states are arranged geographically from south to north, with Button Gwinnett from Georgia first, and Matthew Thornton from New Hampshire last.

<i>General George Washington Resigning His Commission</i> painting by John Trumbull

General George Washington Resigning His Commission is a large-scale oil painting by American artist John Trumbull of General George Washington resigning his commission as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army on December 23, 1783 to the Congress of the Confederation, then meeting in the Maryland State House at Annapolis, Maryland. The painting was commissioned in 1817, started in 1822, finished in 1824, and is now on view in the United States Capitol rotunda in Washington, D.C., along with three other large-scale paintings by Trumbull about the American Revolutionary War.

Quadrangle Dormitories (University of Pennsylvania) United States historic place

Quadrangle Dormitories – "The Quad" – are a complex of 39 conjoined residence houses at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The architectural firm of Cope and Stewardson designed the houses in an exuberant Neo-Jacobean version of the Collegiate Gothic style, and completed most of them between 1894 and 1912. The dormitories stretch from 36th to 38th Streets and from Spruce Street to Hamilton Walk. West of the Memorial Tower at 37th Street, the houses on the north side follow the diagonal of Woodland Avenue and form a long triangle with the houses on the south side. From 1895 to 1971, the dormitories housed only male students.

References

  1. 1 2 Trumbull, John. "The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776". Yale University Art Gallery.
  2. John Hazelton, "The Historical Value of Trumbull's - 'Declaration of Independence' ", The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography - Volume 31, (Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1907), 38.
  3. "History Timeline". Bureau of Engraving and Printing/Treasury Website. Archived from the original on 2014-01-14.Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. Hessler, Gene (1993). The Engraver's Line – An Encyclopedia of Paper Money & Postage Stamp Art. BNR Press. p. 137. ISBN   0-931960-36-3.
  5. Forster, Jeffrey (2012). "The Chronicle's Assistant Section Editor - 1869 Pictorial Issue". U.S. Philatelic Classics Society. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved November 3, 2015.
  6. "'Declaration of Independence' Painting Recreated With Founders' Diverse Descendants". Observer. 2017-07-05. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  7. Team, Editorial. "Meet the Descendants of America's Founding Fathers". Branding.news. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  8. Quijao, Elaine (4 July 2017). "Founding Fathers' descendants unite 241 years later to re-create iconic painting". www.cbsnews.com. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
  9. Kertscher, Tom (2019-09-10). "Fact-check: They signed the Declaration of Independence — but nearly three-quarters also owned slaves". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2020-07-05.
Keys to the figures
Other