SPECIAL ADVISORY: In accordance with Yale University’s revised COVID-19 protocols, the Yale University Art Gallery will close to the public beginning Friday, October 16, 2020. Learn More

American Paintings and Sculpture
PrevNext1 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
PrevNext2 of 2
Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
Artist: John Trumbull, American, 1756–1843
Subject: Arthur Lee, American, 1740–1792, LL.D. 1781

Arthur Lee (1740–1792), LL.D. 1781


Oil on wood

3 7/8 × 3 1/8 in. (9.8 × 7.9 cm)
Trumbull Collection

In the period leading up to the American Revolution, Arthur Lee published a series of letters in English newspapers protesting British Parliament’s actions toward America. These letters earned him wide repute as a patriot and, in 1775, he was asked by the Continental Congress to become a confidential correspondent in London. During the conflict, he acted as an unofficial envoy for the American cause, negotiating several treaties with foreign powers. He was one of the commissioners of the United States at the first treaty with France. John Trumbull painted his portrait in 1790 in New York City during an intense period of portrait-gathering. Trumbull portrayed Lee among the members of Congress in The Resignation of General Washington (1832.8), where he is seated seventh to the left of Washington. This miniature may also have been intended for Trumbull’s unexecuted Treaty of Peace.

On view
18th century

Helen A. Cooper et al., John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 139, pl. 76-80.

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), 106, no. 48, 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.