John Trumbull (June 6, 1756 – November 10, 1843), was a famous American artist from the time of the American Revolutionary War. He was born in Lebanon, Connecticut. He entered the 1773 junior class at Harvard at age 15.
As a soldier in the American Revolutionary War, Trumbull was able to witness the famous Battle of Bunker Hill. In 1780 he was appointed ADC to George Washington. He then traveled to London and Paris. He worked with Benjamin West there, who suggested to him that he paint small pictures of the War of Independence. While in Europe, Trumbull was in prison for some time as a repercussion for the hanging of an English agent in America. Also on West's advice, he painted miniature portraits. In total, he produced about 250 portraits.
Trumbull had little success until the Senate asked him to produce four large war paintings, which now hang in the United States Capitol building.
He was appointed President of the American Academy of Fine Art, a position he held for 19 years, although he did not get along with the students at all. Also, his skills declined. Eventually, his dictatorial behavior led the students to rebel against him and found the National Academy of Design. He published an autobiography in 1841.
He died in New York City at the age of 88. He is interred beneath the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. Part of the inscription on his tomb says "To his Country he gave his SWORD and his PENCIL".