Skip to main content

tv   Artists of the American Revolution  CSPAN  November 26, 2016 10:30pm-11:38pm EST

10:30 pm
show first-person accounts by veterans and ceremonies at pearl harbor and a deep world war ii memorial in washington. in we will take your calls. that is only on c-span3. up next, author paul talks about his book, of arms and artists: the american revolution through painters' ." s john trumbull, benjamin west, and gilbert stuart. over onet is a little hour. >> we are delighted to have lcd presenting "of arms and he is the author of several books and essays on american artist.
10:31 pm
co-curated exhibitions at the museum of art and the museum of fine arts in boston. of thehe recipient national endowment for artists. he is spoken internationally on the intersection of american art and history. i would like to welcome paul to the lectern. [applause] paul: thank you very much. it is a pleasure to be here. thent to thank my hosts at tavern and my publisher who is represented here by sarah kennedy for publishing this book. artists," is a hybrid book in the sense that it attempts to do a number of things at the same time. it is meant to be read by anybody. anyone who's interested in 18th
10:32 pm
century america. the revolution. i think you will find many things in here that will be eight revelation to you. this is an aspect of that era not previously treated. had beenme time, i intending to appeal to professional historians. they might learn a few things. certainly my colleagues might learn a lot from the book. this is my effort to execute a triple, steel. the world series was on last night. all three bases. but i would be happy with a steal or single-steal. triple-stealessful
10:33 pm
was by the cleveland indians. this book is equally a book about george washington, thomas jefferson, and john adams. john adams and john wilson copley, the two families became the best of friends. john trumbull lived with thomas jefferson in paris at the american embassy in paris. john trumbull was privy to the most intimate aspects of thomas jefferson's life. for it while he was a go-between in jefferson's wild romantic pursuit of maria causeway, a married artist to was an heiress at the time. trumbull delivered letters between them showing tremendous discretion. their lives were utterly wrapped up in the events of the revolution. charles willson peale fought.
10:34 pm
he was a militia company from philadelphia on the banks of the delaware with george washington with his musket and his painting kit. son of thell was the governor of connecticut and he watched from a distance the firebombing and burning of charlestown at the battle of bunker hill. he was friends with all of these people. of those stories woven together within the book. that was the fun of writing it. what is the book about you are wondering? i am going to mention for principles or for eldon blocks of this book. book, if you go through the book from front to back, you will never hear me say here is the second building
10:35 pm
block. it is all buried in there. but this was all on my mind when i was researching and writing the book. the first thing is obvious, i proposed that works of art were essential to the founding of the united states. that is actually quite a bold statement, but i will explain why i think they are utterly important. that is a big one. i will give you a couple examples. to starters, i take you independence hall, which was known then as the state house. the commonwealth of pennsylvania commissioned the artist charles paint a picture for independence hall for the
10:36 pm
state of pennsylvania in 1779 and here, in fact, is his picture which is an eight foot tall painting. a big, impressive painting that shows george washington after the battle of princeton which was fought early in 1777 not long after -- a few days after -- the passage of the delaware river. the crossing of the delaware. this is what the state of pennsylvania -- what was the commission for the work of art. i am in a bad position here to read it but i have a copy of it here.
10:37 pm
paul: never are a couple things about that that are quite remarkable. bravest,wisest, his like the freshly minted united states wishes to follow in the footsteps of all great nations before it. there is an obligation to commemorate the end have portraits painted of important washington.such as so that is rather remarkable. the second thing about it that is important is the contemplation of the picture may excite others to tread in the same glorious steps. that is, it will inspire emulation. just one look.
10:38 pm
just seeing what washington, a man of wealth and standing was willing to do, to sacrifice, to do whatever was necessary. that this will inspire others to join the war efforts. when this picture was painted, the war was on. so maybe it will stimulate others to follow as well. so works of art as inspiring. motivational. so it was an important picture in that regard. let his flashforward two years. let'sd in 1779, flashforward to september 9, 1781. the british are losing at yorktown. there is no teacher. no hope for the british. surrender is imminent and everybody understands the surrender at yorktown is essentially the end of the war and everybody knows this. they know this in london
10:39 pm
perfectly well, too. on september 9, a group of loyalists broken to independence hall and slashed tells wilson peale's picture with a knife. they shredded the head. the face. that is, it had so much symbolic importance as to inspire defacement of in official image. maybe they were not going to be able to kill washington himself, but they could at least wipe that smile off of his face. they could at least/the values represented in the picture. they could turn something like this, something attractive like this, into something repulsive. so, works of art were that incendiary at the time. and this had happened before. in 1769, this would be during some of the protests before the revolution of the stamp act, some radical activists went into cambridge and
10:40 pm
walked up to john singleton copley's portrait of the british governor of massachusetts and they cut the heart area out of portrait. leaving a hole. copley was stunned by this. he was being called upon to boston newspapers at the time said, as great an artist is copley might be, it would be impossible for him to restore the heart to the heartless governor bernard. again, destroying a work of art as a political statement. they must famous, which is what? a stone's throw away from here? the summer of 17 six, washington is marching through a here heading uptown and the british have invaded and his soldiers are the moralized and camped
10:41 pm
near about where city hall is isay and washington delivered a copy of the declaration of independence and he has interbred to the troops -- and he has had it read to the troops. at that moment, they spontaneously, not by order but spontaneously, i'm down here to bowling green and last ropes around a huge equestrian statue of george the third. they drag into the ground. they drag it through the streets. then, they melt down the lead. it was led covered in gold. they melt on the lead to make musket balls to kill the british. so again, a work of art, that's what it was, a work of art and the political statements that were made around it. works of art mattered. statements of political belief
10:42 pm
at a time when statements needed to be made and when statements were made. let's go back to the painting. there was another painting originally intended to hang and independencese in hall before the revolution began. it never quite made it there but if you went to any of the colonial capitals of america you would find one of the endless numbers of copies of this portrait hanging in all of the colonial capitals. in way you would see, what was intended for independence hall is the picture you see on the coronation is the portrait of king george iii what was intended for independence hall. left is whaton the
10:43 pm
actually was there. you see the similarities between the two, right? the kind of pose. offhed heavily on one leg of the other. the light weight is doing different things, but the body is to one side. buffered by the left arm which is resting on the canon or the table. the right arm is up on the hip, caulking the elbow outward in a pose that would be called akimbo." they are remarkably similar. why is that? because peale's studied art before the war in london. butthis one specifically, the artist alan ramsey made were -- he and his studio making these all the time. that is the point of similarity.
10:44 pm
yet i would say that deal has transformed it into a revolutionary portrait because washington -- i would say that peale has transformed the. george the third, you don't ever look george the third in the eye. he can be looked at but he does not make eye contact. george washington is i-2-i, face-to-face. under stated. i like to use the word benevolent. a little awkward. very direct. confident. calm after eight little battle. the princeton data was awful. five and early january. the fields were covered with ice. many injured. many children at south
10:45 pm
princeton. stories about how the blood killedn the ice -- many at south princeton. there were stories about how the blood froze on the ice. painted this picture with the idea that he was going to say this was a new day in the history of north america. he has condensed a new order of role into this picture. the first great portrait in america. this one. the values and principles of the new american republic. iii.ngton versus george the difference between the united states and britain. difference between a republic and monarchy. the difference between today and yesterday. so there it all is in a quick
10:46 pm
look. anybody looking at this and 7079 or afterwards would immediately grasp the import of it all. 1779 or afterwards would immediately grasp the import of it all. the second building block. the united states desperately thingspictures, images, like this. not just by charles willson peale but by all of these artists. this was a complicated moment during the revolution and after the revolution. transformative, compelling, captivating, confusing, frightening, utterly incomprehensible. not being able to understand what is happening while it is happening or what it is going to lead to. choate.n certain thingst
10:47 pm
are clear. some things are over. british kings, british governors, british history instantly offensive and completely obsolete. all of that.o now what was required were of american images, american rituals, american heroes, american history, even though the history is you know, 15 minutes long. laughter] paul: and especially in a new country that is not united, fractured. local identities. new yorkers thought of themselves first and foremost as new yorkers not as citizens of the united states, whatever that was. same thing with south carolinians, georgians, you name it. their identities are local. are being asked to
10:48 pm
become citizens of a greater entity and how were they persuaded by that. how were they persuaded of a new national identity for themselves? this is a task i think that would -- would i tell my students -- a sort of microwave nation. microwave like, you pop it in, you press a few buttons and hit independents, warfare, constitution, and you pop it out and here it is. but what is it exactly? how do people come to understand this question mark how did they find common ground of amongst themselves across 1000 miles of atlantic coast? this is where the artists come in. charles willson peale paints somewhere between 17 and 24 of these full-like portraits of
10:49 pm
washington. they appear in state capitals now. one of them is sent to thomas jefferson in paris to hang in the american embassy. another copy is sent to king france.e 16th and the french are writing the checks for the american revolution. they sent soldiers, they sent the navy, they are writing checks. and imagine this picture showing up in front of louis the 16th as if to say, things are going very well as you can see here. we're confident, calm, not a problem. more checks. [laughter] paul: gilbert stuart paints washington over there on the right more than 100 times over the course of 30 years. and pictures, other artists copy
10:50 pm
his pictures. it goes on in and on. they appear everywhere. in other words, these works of art become objects of national shape. leave enough. believe in the people you see in them. in this case, washington who is the glue of the nation. in order to understand that in south carolina, in order to understand that in new hampshire, you have to see something. something has to occur. -- third building lock of building block of the book of art and artists is that i am thinking that these works of art arc tod are, still theica, what the iliad and any edit word to the ancient
10:51 pm
greeks and romans. that is, in this building especially, check out the gallery the next room, letter-day versions of the same things. the unitedl story of states told over and over again. full of heroes. that yourence being can never be sure in reading mythology or homer or hearing scandinavian mythology, whether any of it was remotely true or any of the characters ever actually existed. and in the united states, they did. they were flesh and blood. the events occurred. there were accounts about it all. palpable something about the foundational stories we experienced back then and we still rely upon today. i were asking folks to conjure up an image, go ahead. what did it look like in
10:52 pm
independence hall in the summer of 1776? upt likely you would conjure john trumbull's painting of the declaration of independence here on thee screen. this is the version of it that is at yale, the university art ellery. there is a colossal version of it in the rotunda of the united states capitol. there it is. bunker hill and the summer of 1775, what did that look like? well here's john trumbull's painting of bunker hill that he painted 10 years after the event. that gets us about as close to it as we can possibly get. aboutf we want to think what washington look like when he was president, well, or what it looked like when washington -- this is washington's resignation in the and apple
10:53 pm
estate house in 1783 or what washington looked like when he was president of the united states, we might want to rely on gilbert stuart's portrait of washington taken from life when he was president of the united states. great. so they sort of directly connect this back to the nation's origin and that has been their power ever since. for thee set the stage years.n republic for 240 another example. you were in the u.s. capitol building and this is the rotunda and you are under the great dome of the rotunda of the capital and you are looking at -- this is june 2004.
10:54 pm
the casket bearing the body of resident ronald reagan has been carried from california to washington, d.c., and there has been a procession up pennsylvania avenue and at the bottom of the steps of the capital, the casket is picked up by military honor guard. the casket is carried up the steps of the capitol. a military beyond is playing the battle hymn of the republic. the casket is carried inside the dome. you cannot see it here, it is just under that her weight bear. it is brought into the dome of the capital and it is placed on the temple that once held abraham lincoln's body. , john trumbull's for pictures of the revolution set the stage for this. to thennect 2004 back
10:55 pm
origins of the nation. the symbolism was intense. it was meant to be intense. who are these people? this is the entire united states congress. so, there it is. the summation of everything and one place. this is not a church. kind of a church. this is where the sacred images, the sacred moments of the past are laid out. if you go into a catholic church, you will find stations of the cross, we find stations of the revolution. .omething like that that the declaration of independence, surrender at saratoga, surrender at yorktown, washington's resignation. there it is. i could go one but i will just say one more thing. i am going to take you to the north carolina house of representatives.
10:56 pm
this is the chamber that served to the house until there got be too many representatives said they had to build something else but this is the chamber that existed through most of the 19th century and into the early 20th oftury and you see the desks the congressman here. the center aisle. you see the speakers. you know, i really want to save pulpit. "pulpit." podium. and behind it, the altarpiece. a copy of gilbert stuart haas washington. the analogy to a churches powerful and that is deliberate. it is kind of a sacred moment. you walk into this room and to understand the responsibility to. you must live up
10:57 pm
stewart's washington, the full-length ones, one of the full-length ones, was hung in the white house in the 1800s and every president since john adams has had to be president under of stewart's gaze washington. and there is another one in there, too. sometimes it is in the oval office. you're looking through the news, surely you are going to see images like this one. [laughter] iul: it is quite literally, am watching. i am if i waiting. or you living up to the responsibility at hand? so, it stands there without force. in american political culture. and so, it stands there with that force in american political
10:58 pm
culture. this one here looks like it could be showing george bush the door. [laughter] works of arte cold, they embody, the principles. we do not have to go read the constitutional the time. we can look at these and they serve that. and they continue to serve that sort of function. in "of armsth point and artists," proceed with caution. it would be a mistake to insist these images be or documentaryof objects that tell the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. it would be a mistake to think this is exactly the way it happened or two subjected to that kind of standard. make noe works of art
10:59 pm
mistake about it. with all of 18th-century artistic convention built into them. -- it alsosay, appears on the one dollar bill from 1869. exactly how many one dollar bills have you printed i asked the treasury department since 1869? really know. maybe i could have found out but hundreds of trillions, making it by far the most reproduced image in history. by a long shot. my guess is that if you are caring around some gilbert stuart washington's right now, in your purse, maybe for the
11:00 pm
men, you've got it right there in your back pocket. you are sitting on it. kind of it and intimate relationship you have going on with washington and gilbert stuart. every time you buy something, you weren't thinking about it but there it is. standard. right? so, right. proceed with russian. that is to say, research the facts as much as possible as john trumbull did with the battle of monk or hill. he worked very hard -- with the battle of anchor hill. bunker hill. of he worked very hard to do that. was then is out there in the harbor. these are the lanes of
11:01 pm
charlestown as it is building. -- burning. this is a massive british man at charge that finally ended the battle. the bayonet charge of being the most brutal thing imaginable. the americans are in retreat. one is dying. a militiaman is holding his body and he laced -- reaches out with his left hand as a british grenadier is about to deliver the coup de grace to warn. off.he american pushes it saying, let this man die honorably. not that way. not only is that happening but a british major, major small you see here, steps over one of his own dead soldiers so he can reach out with his right hand and grabbed the musket barrel because he too, believes warren
11:02 pm
honorably. this is a picture of brutality and mercy at the same time. it is a call for mercy. it did not happen that way. yeah, a lot of it happened but rrenfact of it was that wa came on the battlefield late. as soon as he came on the battlefield, he was in on the back of the head with a musket ball. his brain exploded. his body was abandoned, the british threw it into an open grave. that is what happened. 18th-century artistic roles, this picture must be made into something inspirational, epic, monumental, inspiring. destroyed is not
11:03 pm
going to do it. some of the facts but he has idealized the picture of according to the artistic rules century and in that centuries before it as well. the same is also true of the declaration of independence which is the closest any artist -- it was started in 1880 61 trumbull was living with jefferson in paris. trumbull had no plans for painting this subject but jefferson, whispering in one ear, said, it would be a great idea if you would paint the declaration of independence and maybe show me handing the document on the table there. and that is what trouble pants. there.jefferson jefferson draws a picture, it a floor plan of the room.
11:04 pm
a jefferson is already forgetting or scrambling, what does it look like in their exactly? what happened that day? this is june 20 8, 1776. jefferson does not exactly remember that day. not accurate.s try as he might. here you see the committee of five, including adams, jefferson, franklin, turning in the document to john hancock. it never happened quite that way. the document was on the desk but you don't get up and turn it in, use it down like everybody else and then when the time comes it is read out loud. it must've taken about 12-14 minutes to read the declaration of a defense out loud and then they say, next order of business to see whether they would be willing to raise enough money to buy some more nails. they needed nails. can we buy some more nails? or maybe improve the chesapeake.
11:05 pm
it had its moments, but this looks like the grand moment. at everybody in the room that time, they are all talking to each other, bickering, you cannot get order in here at all. and in troubles painting, they'll politely sit in rows of deserving the great event of the sacred document. nobody thought of it as a sacred 1776.nt in june but now it is being made into this. the analogy here is when you get a group of wise men attending a sacred birth, what we are usually talking about is the gi, the birththe ma of christ, those sorts of things.
11:06 pm
and trumbullethically well and he has a depth did that here and it is the birth of the united states and these are the wise men and these are those who sit silently in the attendance. , he worked hard over years and years and years to get the portraits right that he does not want to -- he wants this to be an epic painting and so he takes artistic license to make it so. this is true of john gilbert stuart's great portraits of george washington as well. we ask our students, what do you think of him? the first thing they say is, well, he is boring is boring.- he remote. stoic. drab. a man of gravitas. that does not describe george
11:07 pm
washington. really, he is a man of tremendous energy. a man of ego. when stewart met washington and philadelphia, he was blown away by his physical presence and his personality. he was overwhelming. he wrote to a friend, he said, this man, washington, if he had been an indian he would be the tribes. man of all the this is the ferocity of washington. on another occasion he goes to paint washington in and i am not sure if he is walking into independence hall or robert morris's house exactly but he opens the house and -- door and interrupt something and he sees george washington never, george washington grabbing a man and his administration by the lapels and throwing him across the room. johnis the washington that
11:08 pm
gilbert stuart new but not the one you see here. he looks like george washington, that is true, but this is the one for posterity. the timeless washington. the sculptor washington. the sculpture of washington. a plausible but idealized washington where he is being presented as the president. simple, plain, and a black suit. in a simple pose surrounded by gaudy items. drapery and so on. but he looks almost like a new england minister who has accidentally strayed into the xvi. of louis the that is the look. that was the idea. this opened up a huge debate.
11:09 pm
i should read a little something from the book here about what these pictures ought to be. let me go back for a second. wanted to get the federal government to pay him to thet those pictures in rotunda, he began a public relations campaign. he writesmpaign letters to congressmen and senators. and talkss his pride to president james madison, who he really dislikes. he writes letters to his old pals. thomasn adams and old jefferson, asking for their endorsement of this project. would you be so kind as to write letters to the president and the congress to endorse mike
11:10 pm
pictures that i would be hired to do? and both adams and jefferson right back. adamsis 81 years old and opened his reply to trouble with expressions of pleasure at hearing from him, who he had not seen since he 79 deposit when they had crossed paths in new york's and philadelphia and then the offered cordial affirmations and best wishes with the project. after dispensing with the niceties, adams launched a frontal attack on trumbull's paintings and all forms of state art past, present, and future. , hewill please to remember lectured the artist, that the burn and the pencil, the chisel -- of which we have any information on the side of despotism and superstition.
11:11 pm
for centuries, artists and sculptors painting portraits have conspired against the rights of mankind. adams, moral universe, he was the supreme instrument of sophistry. he warned troubled the great artist of independence, he too was on the threshold of becoming an enemy of human rights. he felt obliged to tell troubled that in his words, i am therefore more inclined to despair than to hope for your success in congress. at them signed up for pictures that were as he put it, honorable and noble. about whether trumbull understood the moral gravity of a project in his tell "destined to posterity of the events of the asolution." the problems adams thought was that all art by its very nature tells and
11:12 pm
imperfect story and however strenuously denied as my research is subject, the result is always semi-fiction. a storybook version. a nostalgic glance backward or worse, a building block in an ideological agenda. as adams numeral, history is never amenable to documentary painting. isadvised trumbull, history always neglected and forgotten. nuance is lost. truth lies banquet. , themerican republic burden on all artists to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth was magnified. the colossal scale of troubles pictures and future placement in the capitol rotunda multiply further the artist's responsibility. adams road to trumbull, the historical justice should fall
11:13 pm
prey to deal more of the fable. catastrophe. a adams had lived long enough to see his work nightmare scenario emerges the national reality. life thated late in the story of the revolution oned become in his words, continued life from one end to another. the essence of the whole would be dr. franklin's electrical rod smote the earth and out sprang george washington. that franklin electrified him these twood and then conducted all the policy, negotiation, legislation, and war. this of course is that history is neglecting me. you know, john adams. what about me? part of this is his ego. but the idea of electrifying and all that, in a number of places
11:14 pm
he makes reference to michelangelo's sistine chapel ceiling. an old and grieving john adams went to see this picture in samuel hall in 1818, 5 weeks after the death of typhoid of his beloved abigail. we do not know exactly what he wrote or thought, no record of it, but surely upon finally seeing the doctor, even though he is in the middle of the picture, he must've thought it depicted american independence as it might have occurred in heaven as opposed to how it occurred on or in. consensual,poised, contested, filled with rancor, demagoguery, and falls starts. the road to independence is flattened, made attractively
11:15 pm
smooth and straight. the same day that trumbull wrote to adams he went to jefferson as jefferson right spectrum well. very interesting. jefferson was in full agreement with trumbull and what he done in this painting. of adams.opposite jefferson writes to the artists, without license the talent of imagination would be banished from all art. pace and judgment and composition would be of no value. on the same footing with the first painting. so, in jefferson's view, the point of good painting was to stimulate strong sentiment not to log in the banal facts. canvas toad put his the awesome task of arousing the patriotic feelings of viewers and coaxing them to collectively
11:16 pm
dream the dream that was american independence. so adams and jefferson are at opposite poles. own way trying to uphold the ongoing values of the revolution at a time, 1818, when the revolution was becoming hazy and the popular imagination. four adams, that meant representing the past with absolute authenticity and presenting it from descending into folklore. to him, trumbull was distorting history and producing a sublime deception as critics might have described it, because the page read never witnessed or recorded the events. in fact, the classically trumbull admitted he wanted to -- he wantedegates to show them calmly, wisely,
11:17 pm
sternly. converted bickering congressmen into stoic republicans governing. the incessant rancor inside independence hall dissolved here into the timeless calm. trumbull deliberately polished his picture with an iconic sheen and to adams that was a tragedy. jefferson, the equally daunting task was to enshrine republican values that had emerged during the revolution so they might be sustained and propagated. he understood and approved idea of project was the 1776. jefferson endorsed trouble's ultimate goal to create a patriotic fiction that had slipped the constraints of temporal logic and sequence to live outside of time.
11:18 pm
that is what the book is about and those are the principles underscoring it. their lives, in other words, are very intimate with -- there is jefferson and his love interest maria causeway. i put the images together in a cheesy manner i have to confess but there he is. that is trumbull's portrait of jefferson at the american embassy in paris. so they are altogether in this. this is the nine foot portrait of john adams. the best of friends. so, right, it is the artist but also the founding fathers. i think i will stop there may be. thank you. [applause] paul: i am happy to take questions. you need the microphone, right? ok.
11:19 pm
here. up front. >> thank you. you ended with copley. you did not say anything about benjamin west. i know you do not have three hours to talk. but could use a little bit more about copley and his connection with the revolution and the same for west? paul: sure. i have five artists. i guess if i wanted to thegorize them, they are bug eyed patriots. trumbull and peale fight for the revolution. they pick up the musket, do whatever it takes. appeal becomes a lieutenant and trumbull becomes a kernel. el.colon nobert stuart seems to have
11:20 pm
political opinion whatever. he is in london for much of the work. him speck in the 1790's with the express purpose of painting washington to make his fortune. in nt does. not necessarily like, i am so happy to be in the united states, a free end independent nation. he is an entrepreneur. so your great artist of washington is an entrepreneur. in radical stop running from the law. in perpetual debt across europe as well as the united states. he is an alcoholic. one of the reasons he has trouble with washington as a sister is because his method to , because hisr method of loosening up is to drink and drink. so he was never boring. an interesting guy. but pure entrepreneur.
11:21 pm
copley and west were sympathetic to the revolution. they wanted to see american independence. they wanted british abuse to end that they thought that war was completely incompatible with art-making. west is already in london from 1760 onward. he is so successful he becomes court painter to george iii which put him in a bit of a pickle during the war because he had to basically navigate his london during the war even though he harbored patriotic sentiment and the king knew it. in fact in one instance where there were a lot of trees in london who wanted to call out s who-- a lots of torie wanted to call out west in london, his biggest defender was george iii. anybody working
11:22 pm
for me who did not have strong feelings about his native land. until 17ays in boston 74 but boston is insane. they are ripping me heart out of his pictures, pounding on his door at night. have you seen so-and-so? we know you painted this project, where z now? he writes in his style he, i could be murdered by these people. copley thanks, i have to get out of here. i don't want to pick up a gun, so he goes to london. his writing letter saying, amerco will be free and independent. a vast empires someday. he and west together decide to go to parliament to listen to capitulated. they listen to the capitulation speech and there are records of
11:23 pm
the two of them along with other americans walking out feeling really good about this. and that is an interesting part of the people, how they weave their way through the most explosive moments of their lives. how they conduct their careers. >> eu mentioned peale's painting of george washington, somewhere did how many paintings -- how many survived or are known to exist and how common wasn't for these five artists to have duplicate paintings of subjects depending upon the demand i suppose and a follow-up question, it looks he justrge washington showed up for his face
11:24 pm
everything was painted around him. how long would he show? or two hours may be this was here in new york when new york was the capital. john trumbull paints is portrait here. portrait here. we have washington's diary entries, he goes to see trumbull an hour.times for mrs. washington and i going to trumbull's studio. about an hour at a time. he gets sick of sitting for portraits. he says, i feel like a horse going to the trough over and over again. i have to just sit. so he gets quite frustrated with the process. how many exist?
11:25 pm
around 15.nk there is one at the metropolitan museum if you want to see one quickly. one in brooklyn. some at the rhode island state capital. there are variants on it. one in the maryland state capital. they are here and there. some have been lost. but it was stewart to painted the most of these. you refer to them as his $100 bills because he charged $100 for each one. ka-ching. they showed up everywhere. there were copyists. there were official prince made. made and unofficial prints made.
11:26 pm
a couple of american traders brought with them one as a gift as a token of our nation. who knows what happened to that. so they sort of saturate the visual landscape of this time. >> how frequent was the ?uplication did trumbull do it? once or twice. maybe a second version said there are not as many troubles around. the most famous one is in city hall here. the owners room. --e questions christian mark more questions than mark -- more questions?
11:27 pm
>> obviously you focused on the top five painters contemporary to the revolution. wondering, one of the well-known painters was actually eale, the sun of george wilson peale. i was wondering how he inspired his son to do the more recognizable portraits of the revolution. paul: his children were -- raphael,affi l rembrandt peale. therandt peale, one of older kids, charles willson peale was from philadelphia but traveling all over, new york,
11:28 pm
philadelphia, washington, d.c. the capital in philadelphia he goes there to paint washington peale says, wait a minute. this is my city and washington is my man. in order to make deal fieldbus bad, stewart arranges with washington to have charles llson come to the president's house and that is eale paints his preal one portrait of washington. in the 1790 plus. i did not include him because that was a later generation in i really dislike the picture, too. [laughter] paul: but what he does is make
11:29 pm
this into a business. oval one. one in the oval office of the white house, usually behind obama and the back of the oval office. rembrandt peale they are. you try to take the best elements to create the standard likeness with the hopes that everybody would ask him to paint copy after copy. and you can carry this on into the 1840's and 1850's and he can say, for life. the pulitzers were penetrate -- patrons but also entrepreneurs. >> at the portrait gallery in
11:30 pm
philadelphia, when he died, most of it got sold off. and areportraits exist on display at the second bank of the u.s. in philadelphia, along with the taxidermy remains of 's pet eagle which is sitting there, part of his monogamy. 50 or 60 portraits hanging better. -- hanging there. at the new york historical society, there is a picture from when he came to study, a beautiful portrait. next to it is this fabulous peale family painting that he worked on for 30 or 40 years with his family and it am in the corner -- and in the corner is an image. three images on display next to
11:31 pm
each other. he managed to work himself into these things. >> he did not get extra credit for that. that is all true. he decided to, from 1780 own he wanted to make an american hall of fame where he 1780 onke portraits -- word, he wanted to make an american hall of fame would take portraits of americans. they are all men. it is not as if women were not respected and admired but virtue was domestic virtue. they became excellent at reading and letters. like but public virtue was entirely men. ultimately he painted 200 of those pictures. about 50 are in the second bank of the united states next door to the independence hall.
11:32 pm
great to see. when he had his museum on the second floor of independence portraits live the upper level, about the flags. on the lower level, he had cases. on the cases you could find turkeys, eagles, bluebirds, stuffed. he had his whole family stuffing animals. all kinds ofd minerals there. the museumrds, contained everything that was unique about the united states, about america. an american turkey, an american mineral, andrican american leaders. from looked different european leaders, approachable and kind. the mastodon? >> the excavated a mastodon in
11:33 pm
new york state and assembled it in the museum, like pt barnum, which is interesting. eventually he went bankrupt and it went to his sons, there was a branch in baltimore, it was complicated. pt barnum -- the originally called the american museum, it was supposed to be a point of inspiration where you look at these great figures that made america a great place and he thought that this would inspire his fellow citizens. thank you for mentioning that. this is the last question. >> if you could go back to the painting of bunker hill? >> bunker hill? that is probably the best thing he ever painted. >> the figures in the lower corner of their are very cornernt looking --
11:34 pm
there are very different looking than the rest. what is the significant of those two figures? vner, and gro his, we do not know, his black servant or black slave, he holds his musket as he leaves the picture. i am not sure if it is painted differently but it is a different note. it helps to close off the right side of the picture, it does not just rip off the edge, it becomes a reference on the edge. wd he is looking back at arren dying, and he is wounded. how does he died? an italianif it was renaissance piece. this is out of michelangelo.
11:35 pm
with the wounds and the whole thing. if i had a detail, if it were dark in here, we could see it, he is holding up his right hand. the has been wounded here. so, again, a reference to the crucifixion. und, when, long after trumbull died, this picture was used by boston abolitionists to make a case for black participation not only in the revolution but the absolute necessity that the time had come to end slavery. sometimes reference this picture, and it was at the dedication to the bunker hill monument, and that that event daniel webster was there.
11:36 pm
and president john tyler was there, a slaveholder, having his black servants hold up his umbrella. john quincynists, adams wanted to impeach high alert, he stayed home in quincy, massachusetts. shortly after that, there were prints made of this where the white thomas is eliminated from the picture and you can only see the black servant who then is basically promoted into the position of being a participant at the event. this became an abolitionist -- and all of his pictures were reminders of, you know, the work of the revolution is not over by a long shot. let's keep in mind that this is that theed thing, united states is a perpetual work in progress.
11:37 pm
[applause] >> thanks. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] on the morning of december almost 2400 americans were killed. american history tv marks the 75th anniversary of the surprise atack on saturday beginning 8:00 a.m. eastern. films, show archival first-person accounts, and the ceremony atsary pearl harbor and the memorial in washington. we will take your calls.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on