Last Look

Washington crossing the Mississippi

The Art Gallery's collections on tour.

Yale University Art Gallery

Yale University Art Gallery

John Trumbull's General George Washington at Trenton (detail). View full image

While the American exhibit in the University Art Gallery is closed during renovations to the building, George Washington and many of his contemporaries will travel. The gallery is sending 230 works from its American collections around the country -- first to Louisville, Kentucky, for an exhibition that starts in September, and then on to Seattle and Birmingham, Alabama, in 2009. The exhibition includes photographs, paintings, and decorative and household items from colonial times to the late 1800s.

The portrait shown here is the eight-foot-high General George Washington at Trenton, by John Trumbull. Trumbull regarded this painting as his best work, says Helen Cooper, curator of the exhibit and Holcombe T. Green Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture. Its setting is the evening before the Battle of Princeton, a turning point of the Revolutionary War. When Washington sat for the portrait in 1792, Trumbull wrote later, they discussed that battle -- "its dangers, its almost desperation" and the general's "high resolve to conquer or perish." Trumbull also wrote that he undertook the portrait "con amore."

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