Great art and an even better story behind it: John Trumbull, the Revolutionary War painter; newsletter, July 6, 2018

July 9, 2018 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: journalism, newsletter.

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (x) on July 6, 2018

Note: We’re on a road trip from East Tennessee to the Western states, and that will take a couple of weeks. Consequently, this newsletter is shorter than usual.

I hope you’ve had a great week and are looking forward to a great weekend.

Important: Remember to open the images or click on one of the links so that my email service will record your engagement and you will stay active on the list. Thanks.

Trumbull’s portrait of Washington at West Point: marvelous art with an even better story (part 1)

It’s one of the best paintings of George Washington that you have probably never seen. And the story behind it is even more interesting than the painting.

The painting is John Trumbull‘s portrait of George Washington at West Point. Washington is pictured in a heroic stance with his slave/servant Billy Lee to his left and the precipice on the Hudson River behind him on the right. It’s a marvelous and masterful work and has huge historical significance.

Trumbull has served as a colonel and aide-de-camp to Washington in the Continental Army, but he resigned after a dispute with Congress over his rank. He decided to devote himself to artistic endeavors and to advancing the revolutionary cause for which he had fought. Despite the fighting that had occurred, London was still open to Americans, and because American artist Benjamin West was there, it was still the best place for a young American artist to train.

So, in 1780, despite the hostilities that were raging and the part that he had played in them, Trumbull headed for London. He had promised to steer clear of political activities. That promise never seemed to mean much to him. Soon after arriving at West’s studio, he set to work on a large portrait of George Washington. Because the general was 3,000 miles away, Trumbull did it almost completely from memory (he managed to gather a few prints and portraits of Washington for reference), and the result was striking. Washington is handsome, calm, and confident, high on an overlook with the river and rocks below him.

The political implications of the portrait were obvious. This proud, young, handsome American was in charge and was likely to defeat his British adversaries.

Trumbull had exceptional artistic ability. What happened next showed that he had exceptional good fortune.

NEXT WEEK: A spy is hanged, and it isn’t John Trumbull.

Source: Paul Staiti.  Of Arms and Artists: The American Revolution through Painters’ Eyes.

See also a previous post on another Revolutionary War artist Charles Willson Peale.


Giveaways and offers

The Prolific Reader. Kill the Quarterback is listed there along with some other great mysteries.”

Independence Day Celebration — Books about Freedom. This Instafreebie group giveaway has some fantastic books by an excellent group of independent authors (including . . . ahem . . . me). You will find something to add to your summer reading stack.


Finally . . .

This week’s watercolor: Woodrow Wilson


I am currently reading a new biography of Woodrow Wilson and am having many thoughts about this multi-sided historical figure. I will be sharing those with you in the weeks to come. Meanwhile, enjoy the portrait. It was part of June’s direct watercolor challenge and the only thing I did worth showing. It was done with no preliminary drawing.


Best quote of the week:

What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness? Jean Jacques Rousseau, philosopher and author (1712-1778) 

Helping those in need

This is my weekly reminder to all of us (especially me) that there are many people who need our help. It’s not complicated. Things happen to people, and we should be ready to do all the good we can in all of the ways we can. (Some will recognize that I am paraphrasing John Wesley here). When is the last time you gave to your favorite charity? The United Methodist Committee on Relief ( my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.

Keep reading, keep writing (especially to me), and have a great weekend.


Jim Stovall

You can connect with Jim on FacebookTwitterLinkedin, and BookBub.

His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.

Last week’s newsletter: Harriet Beecher Stowe, Thomas Dixon, and a couple of examples of excellent journalism: newsletter, June 29, 2018





Get a FREE copy of Kill the Quarterback

Get a free digital copy of Jim Stovall's mystery novel, Kill the Quarterback. You will also get Jim's newsletter and advanced notice of publications, free downloads and a variety of information about what he is working on. Jim likes to stay in touch, so sign up today.

Powered by ConvertKit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.