For Immediate Release
March 31, 2014
Contact: Chris Zaccaro
(860) 246-1553 ext. 116
Another Trumbull Occupies the Capitol Building 164 Years Later
These famous works of art, seen in history textbooks for generations, include The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 (1832), The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, June 17, 1775 (1834), The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775 (1834), The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776 (1831) and The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777 (1831). Each painting depicts, in extraordinary detail, a moment during the American Revolutionary War; the conflict in which the original thirteen colonies rebelled against Great Britain and pronounced themselves an independent nation. Even without their impressive and detailed frames, the pieces each span nine feet long and measure six feet high.
“These paintings bring new color and vibrancy to our Great Hall and Executive Branch chambers,” stated Sally Whipple, Executive Director of Connecticut’s Old State House. “When museums collaborate, good things happen. Trumbull’s works add a new dimension to Old State House stories about civic action, early political networks and the role of art, architecture and story in defining place. We are looking forward to sharing them with our visitors.”
"It is wonderful these grandiose paintings have found a temporary home at the Old State House, so visitors can continue to enjoy the magnificent depictions of a pivotal point in our nation’s history while the museum completes the final phase of its renovation,” said Susan L. Talbott, Director and C.E.O. of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. “We as a museum family are delighted we only have to walk up the street to visit the paintings in the meantime.”
The artist, John Trumbull, was the son, brother and uncle of three Connecticut Governors. His father, Jonathan Trumbull Sr., was the first Governor of Connecticut, thus granting John extraordinary access to many of the Founding Fathers and leaders of the war effort. For this series of paintings, he drew upon actual events, some of which he witnessed. The series was originally planned to be fourteen scenes, however only eight were ever produced. In 1817, the United States Congress commissioned him to reproduce four of these paintings and today they hang in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Former First Lady Abigail Adams, wife of the first Vice President and second President John Adams, was quoted as saying, “He is the first painter who had undertaken to immortalize by his pencil those great actions that gave birth to our nation. He teaches mankind that it is not rank nor titles, but character alone, which interests posterity.”
Trumbull later went on to recreate the series of paintings, but was only able to complete five before his death in 1843. The following year, these five paintings were purchased by Daniel Wadsworth for installment in the Wadsworth Atheneum.
Ironically, Trumbull’s cousin, a poet also named John Trumbull, oversaw the construction of Connecticut’s Old State House in 1796. He provided conclusive evidence that Charles Bulfinch was the building’s architect when he wrote a letter to Oliver Wolcott that read, “A new State House is to be built here next year upon a design of Mr. Bulfinch, which I think is worth executing in the best materials.” Trumbull’s brother, Jonathan Trumbull Jr., served as Governor from 1797-1809 and his nephew Joseph Trumbull began serving as Governor in 1849, six years after his death.
All five of the paintings are now available for public viewing through general admission. Special theme tours focused on the Trumbull paintings, an original Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington and other works of art in the Old State House will be available at Noon every other Thursday, starting April 3, 2014. You can visit www.ctoldstatehouse.org to view specific tour dates, which are available on the Old State House Calendar. Reservations for guided tours at other times can be arranged by calling (860) 522-6766.
Located in Hartford, a short walk from the Wadsworth Atheneum, Connecticut’s Old State House invites visitors of all ages to discover that their voices matter, and that words, ideas, persuasion and debate really can change minds – and, quite possibly, the world. The building served as a seat of government for the Constitution State from 1796 to 1878. For more information on admission prices, upcoming events and parking discounts nearby, become a fan of Connecticut’s Old State House on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or visit us online at www.ctoldstatehouse.org.