John Trumbull (American)
Oil on canvas
Purchase, Pauline V. Fullerton Bequest; Mr. and Mrs. James Walter Carter and Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Gifts; Erving Wolf Foundation and Vain and Harry Fish Foundation Inc. Gifts; Gift of Hanson K. Corning, by exchange; and Maria DeWitt Jesup and Morris K. Jesup Funds, 1976 (1976.332)
Funeral March in C minor Op 72 No 2 by by Frédéric Chopin played by Garrick Ohlsson
Selected track provided by APM Music
- If you said, “Who would you want to meet from the past?” I would love to meet John Trumbull.
- The painter, who was the son of a Connecticut governor, at his core: an aristocrat.
- The courtesy world was paramount--
- even on the battlefield.
- Every one of his pictures has an agenda.
- The Sortie Made by the Garrison at Gibraltar,
- a battle fought between the Spanish and English. And portrays one moment,
- the victory of General George Elliott,
- the commander of British troops, with all of his allies against
- Don Juan de Barboza, the vanquished leader of the Spanish, dying on the ground in front of him.
- General Elliott reaches his hand out in a very compassionate gesture to the man who he’s just defeated.
- If you didn’t get it, that the generals had a kind of
- a code of conduct for the battlefield, well there it is, in microcosm.
- The would-be aristocrats, the military leaders, each and every one of these men
- is identifiable in stark, polite contrast to
- he teeming tower of men fighting,
- this great rag-tag bunch
- of hooligans, basically
- --the burning sky behind them.
- Trumbull wants us to focus on the leaders,
- the looks on their faces.
- Elliott’s face, in sort of Roman profile, is absolutely composed. It’s kind of emotionless, a kind of stoicism that was the key attribute
- of the modern leader. Here’s this man,
- ivory pants without a smudge, as if he just walked out onto the battlefield. Trumbull was a great fan of classical statues. George Elliott is based on the Apollo Belvedere.
- Barboza is the Dying Gaul except that instead of his hand falling to the ground, his hand rises up.
- The hands of Elliott and Barboza almost meet, as if in a Michelangelo. It’s sort of The Birth of Adam: in death comes rebirth.
- And there really is something personally that I take from this:
- I think the people that I admire most
- in this world are people of compassion and calm,
- regardless of what’s going on around them.