World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

Article Id: WHEBN0027331817
Reproduction Date:

Title: Surrender of Lord Cornwallis  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: United States Capitol, 1820 in art, Timeline of United States history, Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis
The painting is fully described in the article text.
Artist John Trumbull
Year 1819 (1819)–1820 (1820)
Type Oil painting
Dimensions 3.7 m × 5.5 m (12 ft × 18 ft)
Location United States Capitol rotunda, Washington, D. C.
Owner United States of America

The Surrender of Lord Cornwallis is an oil painting by John Trumbull. The painting was completed in 1820, and hangs in the rotunda of the United States Capitol in Washington, D. C.

The painting depicts the surrender of British Major General Charles, Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781, ending the Siege of Yorktown, and virtually guaranteeing American independence. Included in the depiction are many leaders of the American troops that took part in the siege.


Artist Horatio Gates.[1] After resigning from the army in 1777, he pursued a career as an artist. In 1785 he began sketching out ideas for a series of large-scale paintings to commemorate the major events of the American Revolution.[2] After spending a time in England, he returned to New York City in 1789, where he sketched a number of dignitaries whose portraits he intended to use in these paintings.[3] In 1791 he traveled to Yorktown, Virginia, where he sketched the landscape of the surrender site.[2]

Self-portrait of Trumbull

Upon his return from Britain after the end of the War of 1812, he promoted this idea to the United States Congress. On the strength of his application and the successful exhibition of Battle of Bunker's Hill, Death of Montgomery, as well as studies for other proposed paintings, the Congress in 1817 voted to commission four large paintings from him, to be hung in the United States Capitol rotunda.[2][4]

The price was set at $8,000 per painting, with the size and subject matter to be determined by President James Madison. A size of twelve by eighteen feet (370 cm × 550 cm) was agreed, as was the subject matter for the four paintings: the Declaration of Independence, the Surrender of General Burgoyne, the Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, and Washington Resigning his Commission. Trumbull spent the next eight years executing the commission, completing this painting in 1820. It was displayed in New York City, Boston, and Baltimore before coming to Washington, D. C., and Trumbull supervised its hanging in the Capitol rotunda in late 1820.[2][4] It has remained there ever since. Trumbull himself cleaned and varnished the painting in 1828, and it has been periodically maintained since. In 1971, damage from a penny that was thrown hard enough to pierce the canvas was repaired.[2] All of the Rotunda paintings were most recently cleaned in 2008.[2]


A key prepared by Trumbull identifying the French and American officers in the painting
Another key to the painting

The subject of this painting is the surrender of the British army at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781, which ended the last major campaign of the Revolutionary War. The blue sky filled with dark clouds and the broken cannon suggest the battles that led to this event. In early September, entrenched with a force of 7,000 men, Cornwallis had hoped for rescue from the sea, but the British vessels were repelled by a French fleet. Within weeks General Washington had deployed a much larger army, and his artillery bombarded the British positions in early October. After American and French troops overran two British strongholds, Cornwallis surrendered on October 19.[2]

In the center of the scene, American General Comte de Rochambeau is on the left center on a brown horse. [2]

See also


  1. ^ Weir, pp. 9-10
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Architect of the Capitol
  3. ^ Weir, p. 19
  4. ^ a b Weir, p. 36


External links

  • Architect of the Capitol Web page on the painting
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.