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American Paintings and Sculpture
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: John Trumbull, American, 1756–1843

“Good Peter,” Chief of the Oneida Indians (ca. 1717-1793)

1792

Oil on wood

4 1/8 x 3 1/4 in. (10.5 x 8.3 cm)
Trumbull Collection
1832.67

With the exception of the Oneida chief “Good Peter,” this group of miniatures depicts Trumbull’s accomplished relatives and a family friend, all of whom were Connecticut natives.

Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., brother of the artist, served as military secretary to George Washington at the surrender at Yorktown, Virginia, and later as a member of Congress. While in London, the artist painted the likeness of his brother directly into The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, on view in this gallery; his is the fifth figure to the right of Washington.

Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., the artist’s father, became governor of Connecticut in 1769. During the Revolutionary War, he supervised the distribution of essential supplies to the American troops. This posthumous portrait is taken from an earlier life study.

The Oneida chief Peter Agwrongdougwas, or “Good Peter,” whom John Trumbull described as a “Great Orator as well as warrior, “acted as one of the Six Nations’ spokensmen during their 1792 visit to Philadelphia, where he was an eloquent advocate for his people’s land rights.

Physician and amateur poet Lemuel Hopkins helped write “The Anarchiad,” a poem that attacked the new American political  system for empowering people who had neither wealth nor education. John Trumbull, a second cousin of the artist, also contributed to “The Anarchiad”, and published a popular poetic work, “M’Fingal,” which dealth with the incompetence of the British during the Revolutionary War.  Both Hopkins and Trumbull were part of a group of consevative satirists known as the “Connecticut wits.”

Culture: 
American
Period: 
18th century
Classification: 
Miniatures
Status: 
On view
Bibliography: 

Helen A. Cooper et al., John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 145, pl. 91-95.

Helen A. Cooper et al., Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: American Art from the Yale University Art Gallery, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2008), 21, 105, no. 47, ill.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.

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