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John Trumbull

  1756-1843

American Neoclassical  Painter of the American Revolutionary War

Artistically and Stylistically Influenced by the Following Painters -Benjamin  West, John Singleton Copley and John Smibert

Education - graduated from Harvard university and later the Royal Academy in London where he studied under Benjamin West


Artist Biography

John Trumbull's paintings are outstanding examples of the American Neoclassical style in the nineteenth century. His favorite subjects were historically important scenes from the American Revolution as well as  historical portraiture.  He believed as  Wincklemann did that "Color contributes to beauty, but it is not beauty. Color should have a minor part in the consideration of beauty, because it is not but the structure that constitutes its essence."

Description and Origins of the Neoclassic Art Movement

The period is called neoclassical because its artists looked back to the art and culture of classical Greece and Rome.  The Neo-Classical movement was centered in Rome, where many painters congregated around the German classical archaeologist and art critic Johann Joachim Wincklemann. Winckelmann gushed about the "noble simplicity and quiet grandeur” of Greek sculpture, which he believed to be the most perfect beauty ever created by human hands, and recommended that artists emulate these classical forms.  Neoclassical art is characterized by its classical form and structure, clarity, and to an degree, realism.


More than just an classical revival, Neo-Classicism was connected to political events of the time. Neo-Classical artists at first wanted to supplant the eroticism and frivolity of the Rococo style with a style that was orderly and serious in character.  French Neoclassism painters emphasis's patriotism, as well as a sense of civility and honorableness. The movement was particularly connected with the beliefs of the French Revolution and was seen as anti-aristocratic. The fantasy-based aristocratic art of the Rococo seemed an insult upon the rights of men and was vilified by critics and the general public.  In an age of sweeping revolution and transformation Neoclassicism became the art of change


Principle Artists of the Neoclassical Period

James Barry Irish, 1741-1806
Antonio Canova Italian, 1757-1822
Jacques-Louis David French, 1748-1825
Jules Elie Delaunay French, 1828-1891
Francois Gerard French, 1770-1837
Antoine-Jean Gros  French, 1771-1835
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres French, 1780-1867
Angelica Kauffmann Swiss, 1741-1807
Rembrandt Peale American, 1778-1860
Bertel Thorvaldsen Danish, 1770-1844
John Trumbull American, 1756-1843
Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun   French, 1755-1842
Benjamin  West American, 1738-1820

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