Declaration of Independence Engraving by John Trumbull
A Copy of this Print Hangs in the White House
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[Trumbull, John – Engraving] Ormsby, Waterman Lilly (1809-1883; Engraver). DECLARATION OF INDEPENCENCE – JULY 4, 1776. [After John Trumbull (1756-1843)] New York: c1786. 23” x 33” sight; 32-1/2” x 42-1/2” overall. A representational “key” printed at the bottom names the various attendees to the signing as they stand in the image.
Engraver Ormsby studied at the National Academy of Design and eventually set up shop in New York. In addition to fine art, Ormsby specialized in the engraving of paper money, becoming one of the founders of the Continental Bank Note Company. The present engraving was produced for the Centennial of the signing of the Declaration. It is vivid and quite striking
The painting from which this image was taken was the result of eight years’ work by Trumbull. Indeed, of the 48 portraits included, 36 were executed from life and are easily recognizable. “Trumbull’s painting is not grand, but it achieves grandeur…The very immobility of the figures and the airlessness of the room suggest the frozen instant in which had been born the new state, to be led not by the caprice of ambitions of a monarch, but by the sweet dictates of republican reason.” –Irma Jaffé in JOHN TRUMBULL, p.117.
Here he beautifully and accurately captures the power, elegance, sobriety, and determination of the original Trumbull image – certainly as well as Asher Durand had done back in 1823. In fact, it is difficult to tell the difference in the skills of either engraver in executing faithfulness to the original.
Excellent condition, fresh, clear, and bold; full margins bear some glue residue from a previous matting, but far from the image; handsomely framed to museum specifications, in a period frame.