Skip to main content

tv   Artists of the American Revolution  CSPAN  November 27, 2016 4:30pm-5:40pm EST

4:30 pm
you will see four of the most recent oral arguments heard by the court this term to see all of the oral arguments covered by c-span. you can find recent appearances by many of the supreme court justices, or watch them in their own words. or the one-on-one interviews from the next two months. we have a list of all current justices, with links so you can see their appearances on c-span, as well as many other supreme court videos available on demand. follow the supreme court at c-span.org. next, author paul staiti talks about his book, " of arms and artists: the american revolution through painters' eyes." john trumbull, benjamin west, and gilbert stuart. the fraunces tavern museum
4:31 pm
hosted the event. it is a little over one hour. we are -- >> we are delighted -- divided to have paul saiti with us. the author of "of arms and artists," he is the author of several books and essays on american artist. he has co-curated exhibitions at the metropolitan museum of art and the museum of fine arts in boston. he is the recipient of the national endowment for artists. he is a two-time senior fellow at the met. he has spoken internationally on the intersection of american art and history. with that, i would like to welcome paul to the lectern. [laughter] thank you very much. it is a pleasure to be here this evening. good evening to you. i want to thank my hosts here at the tavern. and i want to thank my publisher, for publishing this book.
4:32 pm
artists." d this is the book here. it is a hybrid book in the sense that it cap -- attempts to do a number of things at the same time. it is meant to be read by anybody. anyone interested in 18th-century america, the founding, or the revolution. i think you would find many things in here that would be a revelation to you. this was an aspect of the era that hadn't been previously treated. at the same time i had been intending to appeal to professional historians, who might learn a few things from this. certainly my colleagues in art history might learn a lot from the book as well. i like to think of this is my effort to execute a triple steel. i am out ater that all three bases, but i would be
4:33 pm
happy with a double or even single still here. steel, however, was by the cleveland indians. [laughter] this is a book about five artists. equally, it is a book about george washington, thomas jefferson, and john adams. john adams and john simpleton copley, the two families, they became the best of friends. john trumbull lived with thomas jefferson in paris at the american embassy in paris. he was privy to the most intimate aspects of jefferson's life. for a while he became a go 's wild in jefferson
4:34 pm
romantic pursuit of maria causeway, a married artist in paris at the time. trumbull was the one who delivered letters between them, showing tremendous discretion. utterly wrapped up in the events of the revolution, charles wilson feel far and was in a militia company from philadelphia on the banks of the delaware with washington, with his musket and his painting kit. john trumbull was the son of the governor of connecticut. distancetched from a the firebombing and burning of charlestown at the battle of bunker hill. he became washington's aide-de-camp. he was friends with all that these people. so, it's all of those stories woven together within the book. that was the fun of really writing it.
4:35 pm
book about, you are wondering? i'm going to mention four principles or building blocks of this book. , if you go the book through it, of arms and artists, from front to back, you are never going to hear me say -- here is building block number two. it is all kind of buried in there. but this is what was on my mind when i was researching and writing the book. the first thing is kind of the ivious thing, which was that proposed that works of art were essential to the founding of the united states. that's actually quite a bold statement. i will explain why i think they are utterly quite important. and that's a big one. i will give you a couple of examples. for starters, let's go to independence hall. known them it -- known then as the statehouse.
4:36 pm
the commonwealth of pennsylvania commissioned the artist, charles sorry feel -- -- peel -- -- to paint a picture for independence hall, for the state of pennsylvania, in 1779. 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 -- this was the commission for the work of art. i'm in the bad position here to read it, but i think i have a
4:37 pm
copy of it. the wisest, freest, rapist nations in the most virtuous times endeavor to remember in memory those who have rendered their country distinguished services by preserving their resemblances in statues and paintings and they wish to put the washington portrait in the council chamber not only as a mark of great respect to him, but the contemplation of it may to private honor. there are a couple of things about that that are quite remarkable. the freest, wisest, and bravest nation, such as the brand-new, freshly minted united states, now wishing to follow in the footsteps of all great nations before it, feeling an obligation to commemorate and have portraits painted of important washington.such as
4:38 pm
so, that's rather remarkable. the second thing that's important about it is the contemplation of the picture may excite others to tread in the same glorious steps. that is that it will inspire emulation. just one look. 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 effort. when the picture was painted, the war was on. maybe it will stimulate others to follow as well. works of art as inspiring, as motivation. it was an important picture that regard. flash forward two years. to let's flash forward september 9, 1781.
4:39 pm
the british are losing at yorktown. there is no future. there is no hope for the british . surrender is imminent. everybody understands that the surrender at yorktown is essentially the end of the war. everybody knows that they know this in london perfectly well, too. september 9, a group of loyalists broke into independence hall and slashed the picture with a knife. they cut, they shredded the head, the face. that is -- it had so much symbolic importance as to -- inspired to face men of an official image. maybe they weren't going to be able to kill washington himself, but they could at least wipe that smile off of his face. they could at least slash the values that it represented in the picture. they could turn something attractive like this into something repulsive.
4:40 pm
thatorks of art were incendiary at this time. and this had happened before. 1750 nine, during some of the protests before the revolution, stand back and townsend acts, the radical activists went into and theyg in cambridge walked up to john singleton copley's portrait of the british governor of massachusetts and they cut the heart area out of the portrait, leaving a hole. copley was stunned by this. he comes in and is being called upon to repair it. boston newspapers at the time say -- great as an artist as he might eat, it would be impossible for him to restore a heart to the heartless governor .arnhart destroying a work of a political statement. worse, the most famous, which is
4:41 pm
like what, a stone's throw away from here? the summer of 1776, washington is marching through here and heading uptown. the british have invaded. the soldiers are demoralized, camped near where city all is today. washington is delivered a copy of the declaration of independence. he has it read to the troops. , theyhat moment than spontaneously, not by order, but they spontaneously come down here to bowling green and they lash ropes around huge equestrian statues of george the third. they drag it down to the ground. they drag it through the streets. leadhen they melt down the . it was lead covered in gold.
4:42 pm
they melt it down to make musket balls so that they can kill the british. again, a work of art, that's what it was. a work of art. the political statements that were made around it. works of art matter. they are statements of political belief at a time when statements needed to be made and when statements were made. ok, but let's go back to the dispatch in the painting here for a second. there was another painting originally intended to hang in the statehouse, in independence hall, before the revolution began. it never quite made it. but if you went to any of the colonial capitals of america, you would find one of the ofless numbers of copies this portrait hanging in the colonial capital. you would see, what was intended for independence hall,
4:43 pm
was the picture you see on the equestrianh is the -- equestrian -- coronation portrait of king george the third. that is what was intended for independence hall. what you are looking for on the left is what gets home. you see the similarities between the two pictures. i see the kind of pose, weighed heavily on legs, pretty much off of the other. granted, the light legs are between the two men, tossing the body to one side. thebody is buttressed by sitter's left arm, which is resting either on a barrel of a canon or on a table. and then the right arm is up on the hip, caulking the elbow upward in a pose that would be called akimbo. they are remarkably similar in that regard.
4:44 pm
why is that? charles wilson peel studied art in london in the 1760's, before the war. have seen that this one in particular, but the artist alan ramsey, they were making these all the time in the studio. so, that is the point of similarity. hasuld say that peel transformed this into a revolutionary portrait. because washington is so different from george roman three -- george the third. . find him to be approachable george the third, you don't ever look george the third in the eye. so, he can be looked at, but he doesn't make eye contact. george washington? i to i, face-to-face. he's approachable, he's understated. i like to use the word benevolent.
4:45 pm
a little bit awkward. very direct. confident and calm after a brutal battle. the battle of princeton was awful. early january.n the fields were covered with ice. there were many injured, many killed. there are stories about how the blood froze on the ice. what you saw was a red field. of course, you don't see that in this picture. i will come back to the reasons for that and a moment. so, he's fainted this picture with the idea that he's going to more or less say that this is a new day in the history of north america and he has condemned the new order of rule -- condensed the new order of rule into this picture. the first great public portrait in america, in the united states , full of the values and principles of the new republic.
4:46 pm
theington versus george third, a clear-cut difference between the men. the difference on the left, between america and britain, the difference between a republic and a monarchy. the difference between today and yesterday. so, there it all is in a quick look. anybody looking at this, 1779 or afterward, would immediately grasp the import of it all. and that's the revolutionary aspect. ok, second, locked in the arms of artists. the united states desperately needed images of things like this. ,ot just by charles wilson peel but by all of these artists. this was a complicated moment during and after the revolution, transformative, compelling, captivating. confusing.
4:47 pm
frightening. incomprehensible, not being able to understand what's happening, while it's happening, or what it is going to lead to. it's inchoate. but certain things were clear. british rule is over. images, british rituals, british kings, british governors, all of british offensivere instantly and completely obsolete. so, goodbye to all of that. now what was required were american images, american rituals, american heroes, american history -- even though the history is 15 minutes long. and especially in a new country that is not united, that is to states with local
4:48 pm
identities, new yorkers spotted themselves first and foremost as new yorkers, not as a citizen of the united states, whatever that is. with south carolinians, georgians, anybody. you name it, their identities are local. but now they are being asked to become citizens of a greater entity. and how do they -- how are they persuaded by that? persuaded of a new national identity for themselves? would faceask that any kind of -- what i tell my students, any kind of a microwave nation -- microwave like -- well, you know, you pop it in, you press a few buttons, you hit declaration of independence, you hit warfare and so on constitution, you pop it out and here it is, but what is it, exactly? how do people come to understand?
4:49 pm
how do they find common ground amongst themselves across thousands of miles of atlantic coastline? this is where the artist come in. in short order, charles wilson sure, exactly. some are between 17 and 24 of these full-length portraits of 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 louis the 16th france. the french are writing the checks for the american revolution. they have sent soldiers, the navy, they are writing checks. you imagine this picture showing up in front of louis this -- louis the 16th as if to say things are going very well, as you can see here.
4:50 pm
we are confident, calm, not a problem. more checks. stuart paints washington over there on the right more than 100 times over the course of 30 years. , the largest copy, his pictures -- i will tell you more about this in a minute, they go on and on and appear everywhere. in other words, these works of art becomes -- become objects of national faith. belief in them, belief and the people in this case -- washington is the glue of the nation. but in order to understand that in south carolina, in order to understand that in new hampshire, we have got to see something. not in person. but something has to occur. of therd building block artists, is and
4:51 pm
that i'm thinking that these are, stillt were and are, to america, but the iliad -- aey it -- a knee and neid word to the greeks and romans -- were to the greeks and romans. in other words, these are the foundational stories of the united states told over and over again, seen over and over again, full of heroes. the difference being is that you can never be sure, in reading mythology, homer, hearing about scandinavian mythology, whether any of it was remotely true or if any of the characters ever actually existed. but in the united states, they did.
4:52 pm
they were flesh and blood. the events actually occurred. there were accounts of it all. there was something palpable about the foundational story that we experienced a back then and that we still rely upon today. so, if i were asking folks to conjure up an image, go ahead, what did it look like in independence hall in the summer of 1776? upt likely you would conjure john trumbull's painting of the declaration of independence, which you see here on the screen. this is the version that yell. the university art gallery. it's a gigantic and colossal version in the rotunda of the capital. there it is. ok? where if -- the battle of bunker hill in the summer of 1775, what does that look like? well, here's the painting of bunker hill that he painted 10
4:53 pm
years after the event. well, that gets about as close to it as we can possibly get. and then if we want to think about what washington looked like when he was president, or what it looks like -- this is his resignation in the statehouse 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 us back to the nation's origin. that has been their power ever since. stage for thethe american republic for 240 years. -- you are ine
4:54 pm
the u.s. capitol building. this is the rotunda. you are under the great dome of the rotunda of the capital. you are looking at -- this is june of 2004. the casket bearing the body of president ronald reagan has been their id. carried from california to washington. ofre has been a procession pennsylvania avenue. at the bottom of the steps of the capitol the casket is picked up by a military honor guard. the casket was carried up the steps of the capitol. military band is playing the battle hymn of the republic. the casket is carried inside of the dome. you can't see it here, it's just under that doorway. it is brought into the dome of placed on thed is
4:55 pm
catapult that once held the body of abraham lincoln. behind john trumbull's for , itures of the revolution sets the stage for this. to thennect 2004 back origins of the nation. the symbolism was intense. and it was meant to be intense. who are these people? this is the entire united states congress that has come out. so, there it is. it's like the summation of everything in one place. this is not a church. but it is kind of a church. this is where the sacred images, the sacred moments of the past are laid out there. into a catholic church, you will find those pieces. stations of the cross, stations of the revolution, something like that, that are bringing the
4:56 pm
back wall. the declaration of independence, the surrender at saratoga, yorktown, washington's resignation. there it is. i could go on, but i'm not. i will say one more thing about it. to the north carolina house of representatives. this is the chamber that served for the house until there got to be too many representatives and they had to build something else , but this is the chamber that existed through most of the 19th century and into the early 20th century. desks of the congressman here? the center aisle? do you see the speakers? i really want to say pulpit. podium. altarpiece, which is a copy of gilbert stuart's
4:57 pm
presidential washington. i mean, the analogy to a church is powerful, and that's deliberate. it is a kind of sacred moment. this room and you understand the responsibility that you must live up to. stuart's washington, in one of ones, it wasth hung in the white house in 1800 and every president since john adams has had to be president under the withering gaze of stuart's washington. there is another one in there, too. sometimes it's in the oval office. next time you are looking to the news, surely you are going to see images like this one. [laughter] it's quite literally -- i'm watching, i'm evaluating.
4:58 pm
are you living up to the responsibility at hand? so, it stands there with that force. a force in american political culture. it's not as clear a slide, but it's the standing washington that looks sort of like he's giving george bush -- you know, showing him the door. did you live up to the principles? in other words, these works of art embodied the principles. you don't have to go read the constitutional the time. you can look at these and they are serving -- and they will continue to serve, that sort of function. point, proceed with caution. it would be a mistake to insist that these images the
4:59 pm
documentary proofs or documentary objects that tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. it would be a mistake to think that this is exactly the way it happened, which is subjected to that kind of standard. these are works of art. make no mistake about it. when all the 18th century artistic conventions built in. factss to say -- use the -- sorry -- no, no, i'm getting ahead of myself. it also appears on the one dollar bill, from 1869. i'm backtracking now. from 1869 it's been on the one dollar bill. the treasury department, exactly how many one dollar bills have you printed since 1869? they don't really know.
5:00 pm
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 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. -- with the battle of bunker
5:01 pm
hill. he worked very hard to do that. was then is out there in the harbor. these are the lanes of charlestown as it is 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 reaches out with his left hand as a british grenadier is about to deliver the coup de grace to warn. but the american pushes it off. saying, let this man die honorably. not that way. not only is that happening but a
5:02 pm
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 should die 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 the fact of it was that waarren 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. but by 18th-century artistic
5:03 pm
roles, this picture must be made into something inspirational, epic, monumental, inspiring. showing warren destroyed is not going to do it. he has some of the facts but he has idealized the picture of according to the artistic rules that existed in that century and 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 1881 trumbull was living with jefferson in paris. trumbull had no plans for painting this subject but
5:04 pm
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. he has jefferson there. jefferson draws a picture, it a floor plan of the room. a jefferson is already forgetting or scrambling, what does it look like in their exactly? what happened that day? this is june 28, 1776. jefferson does not exactly remember that day. already this is not accurate. 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
5:05 pm
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. it had its moments, but this looks like the grand moment. and everybody in the room at 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 document in june 1776. 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
5:06 pm
usually talking about is the adoration of the magi, the birth of christ, those sorts of things. and trumbull ethically 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. the portraits, 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,
5:07 pm
well, he is boring. remote. stoic. drab. a man of gravitas. 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 fiercest man of all the tribes. 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
5:08 pm
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. that is the washington that john 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 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 rather gaudy items. drapery and so on. but he looks almost like a new
5:09 pm
england minister who has accidentally strayed into the court of louis the xvi. that is the look. that was the idea. this opened up a huge debate. i should read a little something from the book here about what these pictures ought to be. let me go back for a second. when trumbull wanted to get the federal government to pay him to paint those pictures in the rotunda, he began a public relations campaign. in this campaign he writes letters to congressmen and senators. he swallows his pride and talks to president james madison, who he really dislikes. he writes letters to his old
5:10 pm
pals. old john adams and old thomas 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 pictures that i would be hired to do? and both adams and jefferson write back. adams is 81 years old and adams 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. you will please to remember, he
5:11 pm
lectured the artist, that the burn and the pencil, the chisel and the trial, -- of which we have any information on the side of despotism and superstition. for centuries, artists and sculptors painting portraits have conspired against the rights of mankind. and 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. he worried about whether trumbull understood the moral gravity of a project in his words "destined to tell
5:12 pm
posterity of the events of the revolution." the problems as adams thought was that all art by its very nature tells and 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. he advised trumbull, history is always neglected and forgotten. nuance is lost. truth lies banquet. the american republic, the burden on all artists to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth was magnified.
5:13 pm
the colossal scale of troubles pictures and future placement in the capitol rotunda multiply further the artist's responsibility. adams wrote to trumbull, the historical justice should fall prey to deal more of the fable. that would be a catastrophe. adams had lived long enough to see his work nightmare scenario emerges the national reality. he predicted late in life that the story of the revolution would become in his words, one 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 with his rod and then these two conducted all the policy, negotiation, legislation, and war.
5:14 pm
what is behind 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 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 samuel hall in 1818, 5 weeks 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. harmonious, poised, consensual,
5:15 pm
contested, filled with rancor, demagoguery, and falls starts. the road to independence is flattened, made attractively smooth and straight. the same day that trumbull wrote to adams he went to jefferson and jefferson right spectrum as well. very interesting. jefferson was in full agreement with trumbull and what he done in this painting. the exact opposite of adams. 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.
5:16 pm
so, in jefferson's view, the point of good painting was to stimulate strong sentiment not to log in the banal facts. trumbull had put his canvas to the awesome task of arousing the patriotic feelings of viewers and coaxing them to collectively dream the dream that was american independence. so adams and jefferson are at opposite poles. each man in his 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
5:17 pm
the events. in fact, the classically trumbull admitted he wanted to shoot the delegates -- he wanted to show them calmly, wisely, sternly. it 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. but for 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 troubles project was the idea of 1776.
5:18 pm
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. 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. they become the best of friends. so, right, it is the artist but also the founding fathers. i think i will stop there may be.
5:19 pm
thank you. [applause] paul: i am happy to take questions. you need the microphone, right? ok. 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 categorize them, they are the bug eyed patriots. trumbull and peale fight for the revolution. they pick up the musket, do whatever it takes.
5:20 pm
appeal becomes a lieutenant and trumbull becomes a colonel. gilbert stuart seems to have no 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. 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 sitter, because his method of loosening up is to drink and
5:21 pm
drink. so he was never boring. an interesting guy. but pure entrepreneur. 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 way through 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
5:22 pm
london who wanted to call out west -- a lots of tories who wanted to call out west in london, his biggest defender was george iii. i would not want anybody working for me who did not have strong feelings about his native land. copley stays in boston until 17 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.
5:23 pm
he and west together decide to go to parliament to listen to the king capitulated. they listen to the capitulation speech and there are records of 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. >> you mentioned peale's painting of george washington, somewhere between he 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
5:24 pm
upon the demand i suppose and a follow-up question, it looks like george washington he just showed up for his face everything was painted around him. how long would he show? paul: an hour or two hours may be this was here in new york when new york was the capital. john trumbull paints his portrait here. we have washington's diary entries, he goes to see trumbull about 13 times for an hour. 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.
5:25 pm
i have to just sit. so he gets quite frustrated with the process. >> how many exist? paul: i think around 15. 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.
5:26 pm
there were official prints made and unofficial prints made. 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 duplication? did trumbull do it? paul: maybe once or twice. maybe a second version said there are not as many troubles around. the most famous one is in city
5:27 pm
hall here. the owners room. more questions? >> obviously you focused on the top five painters contemporary to the revolution. i was wondering, one of the well-known painters was actually rembrandt peale, 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 rembrandt, raphael, rembrandt peale. rembrandt peale, one of the
5:28 pm
older kids, charles willson peale was from philadelphia but traveling all over, new york, philadelphia, washington, d.c. the capital in philadelphia he goes there to paint washington and 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 willson come to the president's house and that is where rembrandt peale paints his one portrait of washington. in the 1790 plus.
5:29 pm
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 this into a business. this oval one. one in the oval office of the white house, usually behind obama and the back of the oval office. you see the 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.
5:30 pm
the patrons but also entrepreneurs. >> at the portrait gallery in philadelphia, when he died, most of it got sold off. but the portraits exist and are on display at the second bank of the u.s. in philadelphia, along with the taxidermy remains of peale's pet eagle which is sitting there, part of his monogamy. 50 or 60 portraits 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
5:31 pm
worked on for 30 or 40 years with his family and in the corner is an image. three images on display next to 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 work, he wanted to make an american hall of fame where he would take portraits -- 1780 on 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 for women was domestic virtue. they became excellent at reading and letters. music, things like that.
5:32 pm
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. great to see. when he had his museum on the second floor of independence hall, the 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. you could find all kinds of minerals there. in other words, the museum contained everything that was unique about the united states, about america. an american turkey, an american eagle, an american mineral, and american leaders.
5:33 pm
which looked different from european leaders, approachable and kind. >> the mastodon? >> the excavated a mastodon in 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?
5:34 pm
>> bunker hill? that is probably the best thing he ever painted. >> the figures in the lower corner there are very different looking than the rest. what is the significant of those two figures? >> thomas grovner, and 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. and he is looking back at warren dying, and he is wounded.
5:35 pm
how does he died? he dies as if it was an italian renaissance piece. this is out of michelangelo. 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. the wound, 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
5:36 pm
necessity that the time had come to end slavery. we sometimes reference this picture, and it was at the dedication to the bunker hill monument, and that that event daniel webster was there. and president john tyler was there, a slaveholder, having his black servants hold up his umbrella. the abolitionists, john quincy 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 prints made of this where the basically promoted into the position of being a participant at the event. this became an abolitionist -- and all of his pictures were
5:37 pm
reminders of, you know, the work of the revolution is not over by a long shot. let's keep in mind that this is not a fixed thing, that the united states is a perpetual work in progress. [applause] >> thanks. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> on the morning of december 7, 1941, japanese planes attacked the u.s. at pearl harbor. almost 2400 americans were killed. american history tv marks the 75th anniversary of the surprise attack. on saturday, december 10,
5:38 pm
beginning at 8:00 a.m. eastern. we will show archival films, first-person accounts from civilians,d and the events at the memorial. and you will take your calls. that is saturday, december 10, beginning at 8:00 a.m. eastern here on american history tv, only on c-span3. >> monday night on "the communicators" -- >> i hope any kind of copyright rewrite will come with a requirement or framework for putting data into a central repository where people can have access to it, where it can be searched not only on an individual item by item basis, but on a scale basis, because we run 2.5 million and we will get more every day. >> pandora general counsel steve the day on the issues facing the music industry over digital music services, including copyright laws, ticket price
5:39 pm
inflation, and the competition between humans and bots for concert tickets. he is interviewed by a technology reporter for "political." >> bots do buy tickets. what they do is they keep other fans out of the market, and what we are finding is that some fans really want to go see a concert, and they can mash the button on their computer all day long, but you can't beat a bot. they are not able to get tickets in their first run at their list left with they are only the opportunity of buying the tickets on the secondary market after they have gotten them and pass them to promoters, who raise the prices. >> watch "the communicators" monday night in :00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> this year, c-span is touring cities across the country, explorin

16 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on