American Paintings and Sculpture
Artist: John Trumbull, American, 1756–1843

The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, October 19, 1781

1787–ca. 1828

Oil on canvas

21 x 30 5/8 x 3/4 in. (53.3 x 77.8 x 1.9 cm) framed: 27 3/16 x 36 15/16 x 3 1/8 in. (69.1 x 93.8 x 7.94 cm)
Trumbull Collection

This scene marks the end of the Revolutionary War. The defeated British army marches between the Americans on the right, led by General George Washington, and the French on the left, led by General Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau. At the center, on horseback, Major General Benjamin Lincoln, Washington’s second-in-command, accepts the official surrender from General Lord Cornwallis’s deputy, General Charles O’Hara. According to historical accounts, Cornwallis had feigned illness on the occasion and passed the responsibility of surrender to O’Hara. Washington, recognizing the snub, directed O’Hara to Major General Lincoln, who accepted O’Hara’s sword and handed it back to him. Trumbull painted the portraits of the French officers directly onto the canvas in Thomas Jefferson’s house in Paris and regarded them as the “best of my small portraits.”

18th–19th century
On view*

Helen A. Cooper et al., John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 34, 83, detail of Cat. 27, pl 27, fig. 16.

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), 26, 67, 80, 93, 105, no. 37, 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.