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National Academy of Design.-First exhibition.
studied the casts from the antique, and improved; but my drawing remained deficient. I had neglected the spring of
life,' and it never returned.
"I also determined to make a picture from the etched outline of West's Death on the Pale Horse, before the Calvary, I exerted myself for that purpose, and making an arrangement with the directors of the American Academy of Fine Arts, for the use of the gallery, I opened the picture to the public in less than three months from the commencement of the outline.
"In November, I became acquainted with the person and paintings of Mr. T. Cole. I did the best I could to make the public acquainted with the extraordinary merit of his pictureseven then, and it is among the few of my good deeds; he has proved more than I anticipated, and I have been repaid by his friendship, and gratified by his success.
"In 1826 the National Academy of Design was created, composed of, and governed by artists only. I became an active member, being elected an academician. In the spring I continued to paint studies from nature, for the Calvary, and likewise painted several portraits. In May, the National Academy opened their first annual exhibition, which has increased in interest yearly.
From my journal I extract an entry not made for the public
Thursday, 19th Feb., 1829.-I am this day 63 years of age, active, and, I think, stronger than a year ago. I believe I am improving as an artist. As a man, I hope I am-but it is little. May God receive my thanks for His blessings, and may His will be done.'
"In March, my Calvary was exhibited in Washington with praise and profit."
Trumbull.-College researches.-Battle of Cannæ.
Trumbull was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, and was the son of Jonathan Trumbull, first governor of that state, of the name. When at college, he ransacked the library for books on the arts, among others he found "Brook Taylor's Jesuit's Perspective made easy." This work he studied faithfully, and copied all the diagrams: he also copied a picture belonging to the college of an Eruption of Mount Vesuvius, painted by an Italian; also, a copy of Vandyke, the Head of Cardinal Bentevoglio, and Nicolas Coypell's Rebecca at the Well. He did these in oil, obtaining his colours of a house-painter.
Before he went to college he obtained a book called the "Handmaid of the Arts." He somewhere picked up the title page, and sent to London for the book. Copley was then in Boston, and young Trumbull's first visit to that distinguished artist, happened to be made at a time when he was entertaining his friends, shortly after his marriage. He found him in a suit of crimson velvet, with gold buttons; and the elegance of his style, and his high repute, impressed the future artist with grand ideas of the life of a painter.
The works of Smybert, Blackburn, and Copley, at Boston, so immediately under the eye of the young man, doubtless strengthened the desire to become a painter; and on his return to Lebanon, he made his first attempt at composition.
After leaving college, he painted the Battle of Cannæ, which shows the bent of his mind, being particularly struck with the character of Paulus Emilius. This picture is now at Yale College. He painted several other pictures; among them one of Brutus condemning his Sons. What has become of that is un
Imprisoned as a spy.-Return home.-Revisits England.
known. Very soon after, all other subjects were absorbed in the stirring incidents of the times. He served about two years in the army as an adjutant-general, with the rank of colonel. He resigned his commission in 1777, and after two or three years' study in Boston, he proceeded to London, and became the pupil of Benjamin West. For three months he pursued his studies uninterruptedly, when falling under suspicion as an American spy, he was imprisoned for eight months.
It was during this confinement, that Mr. Trumbull, among other pictures, copied that beautiful copy of the St. Jerome, which is mentioned in the "Life of West," as being executed by him from the exquisite original of Coreggio, at Parma. Mr. Trumbull's is, perhaps, equal to his master's, and certainly one of the gems of the art.
In June, at which time a change had taken place in the affairs of the two countries, and the government began to relax their severity; Trumbull was admitted to bail by a special order of the king in council, on condition of quitting the kingdom within thirty days, and not to return during the war. His securities were West and Copley. Consequently he returned home greatly changed and disappointed. In the spring of 1783, the news arrived of the preliminaries of peace having been arranged, and in January, 1784, Trumbull landed in Portsmouth, England, and immediately proceeded to London, where he was again kindly received by Mr. West, pursued his studies indefatigably, and in 1785, had made such progress as to copy for Mr. West his celebrated picture of the Battle of La Hogue. An original composition of his own, was painted immediately afterwards, and he chose for his subject Priam bearing back to his palace the body of Hector, the figures about ten inches in height. The picture is now in the possession of the widow of Mr Gore, to whom it
Excels in pictures of cabinet size.
was presented, at Waltham, near Boston, and is devised to Harvard College, where the painter was educated. It is in miniature oil, a style in which Mr. Trumbull afterwards excelled as an historical painter. The figures were of a size similar, or nearly so, to those in his Bunker Hill, and Death of Montgomery.
"The composition, colouring, and touch of Mr. Trumbull's Bunker Hill," says Mr. Dunlap, are admirable. The drawing and attitudes of the figures, though excellent, are inferior to his next picture, of the same miniature size, the Death of Montgomery at Quebec. The figures are accurately drawn, and the attitudes finely diversified. The chiaroscuro is perfect. These two beautiful little pictures were carried to Washington, in 1816, and shown to the members of congress, as inducements to employ the painter in patriotic works for the capitol: but, although their merits gained employment for the artist, the senators and representatives saw at once, that such subjects were not fitted for the decoration of the rotunda. Had the Battle of Bunker Hill represented the true point of time; the triumph of our militia and gallant leaders, over the disciplined veterans of Britain, there can be no doubt that the picture would have been copied for the nation.
The fourth and last historical painting which Mr. Trumbull finished, under the eye of West, was the Sortie from Gibraltar; it is, perhaps, the best of his works.
The immense traffic in prints which had been established by England, presented a field for the accumulation of wealth. To paint a series of pictures on subjects connected with the American Revolution, was a speculation worthy of attention; and to do it in copartnership with European engravers, and spread prints of the size of the original pictures, was a feasible project, offering both fame and fortune.
Portraits of distinguished men for historical works.
The present constitution of the United States had been framed, and the first session of congress had been appointed to be held in New York, in December, 1789. The time had therefore arrived for proceeding with the American pictures. (He had already obtained a portrait of Mr. Adams, in London, and Mr, Jefferson sat to him for his, in Paris.) He sailed for America, and arrived in New York in November, 1789; and proceeded to paint as many of the heads of the signers of the Declaration of Independence as were present.
These portraits of such persons as had been in congress at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, or of such as had afterwards signed it, and of Washington for the battles of Trenton and Princeton, are among the most admirable miniatures in oil that ever were painted. The same may be said of the portraits in the small picture of the Surrender of Cornwallis.
In the summer of 1790 he painted the full-length portrait— in the council room, City Hall, New York-of General Washington, of the size of life; and in 1791, that of Governor George Clinton, in the same room. In 1792 he painted another fulllength of Washington, for the city of Charleston, with a horse, and a view of that city in the distance. He painted another at the same time, which is now at the college at New Haven, to which it was presented by the State Society of the Cincinnati. The latter is considered as the finest portrait of Washington in existence. It represents him at the most critical moment in his life—on the evening before the battle of Princeton—meditating his retreat before a superior enemy. At the time this picture was painted, Signor Ceracchi executed a bust, of which there is a colossal cast in the collection of the American Academy of the Fine Arts. The best evidence that can be given of the correctness of both these productions of art, is to be found in the close