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John Trumbull: The Declaration of Independence | by Thomas Cizauskas
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John Trumbull: The Declaration of Independence

Artist: John Trumbull, American, 1756-1843

The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

(painted 1786–1820)

Oil on canvas, 53 x 78.7 cm (20 7/8 x 31 in.)

Yale University Art Gallery, Trumbull Collection

Public domain

 

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This painting depicts the moment on June 28, 1776, when the first draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to the Second Continental Congress. The document stated the principles for which the Revolutionary War was being fought and which remain fundamental to the nation. Less than a week later, on July 4, 1776, the Declaration was officially adopted. It was later signed on August 2, 1776.

 

In the central group in the painting, Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration, is shown placing the document before John Hancock, president of the Congress. With him stand the other members of the committee that created the draft: John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin. This event occurred in the Pennsylvania State House, now Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

 

Working in Paris, France, in the 1780s, young John Trumbull began an ambitious series of paintings depicting key moments in American History, including the story of the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson - then the American minister to France - enthusiastically supported the project and advised, along with John Adams, that all of the Congressional delegates be shown, a total of 56 people! Trumbull spent decades obtaining accurate likenesses, making portraits from life of 36 delegates, and copying others from paintings by other artists. Some participants remained elusive - the finished work contains 47 individuals (42 of the 56 signers plus 5 other patriots).

 

Trumbull later used the image shown here, measuring only 20 x 30 inches, as the basis for a monumental 12 x 18 feet version which today hangs in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.

Library of Congress.

 

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▶ More about the painting:

Yale University Art Gallery

Architect of the Capitol.

▶ Text of the Declaration of Independence: National Archives.

 

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Originally posted by IIP Photo Archive. The IIP Photo Archive is maintained by the Bureau of International Information Programs of the United States Department of State and comprises public access photos for use by U.S Missions overseas and other State Department entities.

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Uploaded on June 24, 2016