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Trumbull's Declaration of Independence: Wikis


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Declaration of Independence
Artist John Trumbull
Year commissioned 1817; purchased 1819;
placed 1826 in the Rotunda
Type Oil-on-canvas
Dimensions 365.76 cm × 548.64 cm (144 in × 216 in)
Location United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., United States

John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence is a 12-by-18-foot oil-on-canvas painting in the United States Capitol Rotunda that depicts 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 as well to depict the chamber where the Second Continental Congress met.

The painting is often mistakenly called the "Signing of the Declaration of Independence", but only shows the presentation of the draft. While the event depicted in the painting did take place, it has several historical inaccuracies as a result of Trumbull's artistic license.[2]

The oil-on-canvas work was commissioned in 1817, purchased in 1819, and placed in the rotunda in 1826.

Thomas Jefferson seems to be stepping on the foot of John Adams in the painting, which many think is supposed to symbolize their relationship as political enemies. 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.

Trumbull's work shows 42 of the 56 signers of the Declaration. Five figures in the painting did not sign.


Unpictured signers

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

On the two-dollar bill

United States two-dollar bill (reverse)

Trumbull's painting is the source of the picture on the reverse of the two-dollar bill, which cuts out 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 seated in the left rear, George Walton. The bill features 40 of the 47 figures from Trumbull's painting. Two other unknown figures are superimposed in the engraving in between Samuel Chase and Lewis Morris and between James Wilson and Francis Hopkinson, bringing the total number of figures on the reverse of the two-dollar bill to 42. John Dickinson is painted in the portrait, but was not actually present at the signing of the declaration.

Key to historical figures depicted in the painting

Trumbull's Declaration of Independence
U.S government's key to the painting

The following key to the 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 ("left" and "right" are the viewer's "left" and "right"; 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:

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:

Similar paintings

Howard Chandler Christy's Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States

Howard Chandler Christy's Scene at the Signing of the Constitution of the United States is a similar painting depicting members of the Constitutional Convention. Painted in 1940, the work is also located in the U.S. Capitol.


External links


Keys to the figures



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