The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775
The painting is fully described in the article text.
ArtistJohn Trumbull
Typeoil on canvas
Dimensions50.16 cm × 75.56 cm (19¾ in × 29¾ in)
LocationMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
 
Jump to: navigation, search
The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775
The painting is fully described in the article text.
ArtistJohn Trumbull
Typeoil on canvas
Dimensions50.16 cm × 75.56 cm (19¾ in × 29¾ in)
LocationMuseum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker's Hill, June 17, 1775 is an oil painting by John Trumbull depicting the death of Joseph Warren at the June 17, 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill, during the American Revolutionary War. Warren, an influential Massachusetts politician, had been commissioned a general but served in the battle as a volunteer. He was killed during or shortly after the storming of the redoubt atop Breed's Hill by British troops. The painting is one of the iconic images of the American Revolution. Trumbull painted several versions of the subject, including the one in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston which was passed down through his descendants.[1] He sold the engraving rights for this painting and Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec for a highly successful subscription release that greatly enhanced his career.

Event[edit source | edit]

Artist John Trumbull (1756–1843) was in the colonial army camp at Roxbury, Massachusetts on June 17, 1775, the day of the Battle of Bunker Hill. He watched the battle unfold through field glasses, and later decided to depict one of its central events.[2] Joseph Warren, a Massachusetts politician and member of the colony's Committee of Safety, volunteered to serve under Colonel William Prescott in the defense of the redoubt the colonists had constructed on top of Breed's Hill. This redoubt was the target of three British attacks, of which the first two were repulsed. The third attack succeeded, in part because the defenders had run out of ammunition. Warren was struck by a musket ball during the evacuation of the redoubt and died shortly after.

Description[edit source | edit]

Self-portrait of Trumbull

The central focus of the painting is Warren's body, dressed in white, and John Small, a British major, dressed in a redcoated uniform.[3] Small, who had served with colonial general Israel Putnam during the French and Indian War, is shown preventing a fellow British soldier from bayoneting Warren's body. On the far right of the painting is a colonial officer, Thomas Grosvenor, with a black man holding a musket behind him. The black man was long thought to be Peter Salem, a freed slave who served in the cause of American independence. Later research instead identified him as a slave belonging to Grosvenor.[2]

The foreground is littered with bodies from both sides of the conflict, and the background includes clusters of colonial and British troops carrying flags; Boston Harbor is also visible in the distance, although the sky is partially obscured by smoke (which rose from Charlestown, which had been torched by the British).

Trumbull, in describing the painting for a catalogue of his works, explained why he chose to emphasize the British Major Small's role, saying that Small, whom he apparently encountered in London, "was equally distinguished by acts of humanity and kindness to his enemies, as by bravery and fidelity to the cause he served."[4]

People depicted[edit source | edit]

British soldiers[edit source | edit]

Colonists[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

Notes
  1. ^ [1], Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  2. ^ a b Tamarkin, p. 137
  3. ^ "Key to the Battle of Bunker's Hill". americanrevolution.org. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  4. ^ Tamarkin, p. 134
Sources
  • Tamarkin, Elisa (2008). Anglophilia: deference, devotion, and antebellum America. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-78944-6. 
  • Masur, Louis P. "Pictures Have Now Become a Necessity": The Use of Images in American History Textbooks." The Journal of American History, March 1998, pp. 1409–24.