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

John Jay (1745–1829)


Oil on wood

4 × 3 1/4 in. (10.2 × 8.3 cm)
Trumbull Collection

These five miniatures were done in preparation for The Treaty of Peace, an unexecuted painting commemorating the 1783 accord signed in Paris that ended the Revolutionary War. Congress deputized Henry Laurens, John Jay, and John Adams to act as American peace commissioners. At the negotiations, Laurens, a leading merchant and planter from Charleston, South Carolina, inserted an article protecting property, including slaves, from removal by the British Army.

John Jay, former president of the Continental Congress and future chief justice of the United States, participated in the peace talks while also serving as minister to Spain. He played a crucial role in defining the borders between the new nation and the British, Spanish, and French territories in North America. This miniature of Jay may also have been done in preparation for the unexecuted Inauguration of the President.

John Adams, later the second president of the United States, worked with Jay to make peace with England without French interference. Trumbull portrayed Adams in the formal attire of an American minister, probably as a study for The Treaty of Peace.

The last two miniatures are of George Hammond, secretary to the British delegation at the Treaty of Paris, and William Temple Franklin, Benjamin Franklin’s grandson. Trumbull painted Hammond’s likeness while the latter was visiting America, during his tenure as the first minister of Great Britain to the United States. Franklin was appointed secretary to the American delegation at the treaty talks.

On view
18th century

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), 96–97, no. 39, ill.

Helen A. Cooper et al., John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 135, pl. 66-70.

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.