Trumbull's Painting, "Declaration of Independence," is Used as Collateral by the Artist

    [Declaration of Independence]. John Trumbull Autograph Document Signed "J.T." One page, 7.75" x 9.75", n.p., March 6, 1822. American artist John Trumbull (1756-1843), best remembered today for his painting, Declaration of Independence. This document addressed to "Charles Wilkes Esq: Cashier of the Bank of New York," lists his famous painting as collateral. In part: "Now therefore, being desirous to Secure him as far as is in my power against loss by the uncertainty of Life & prosperity, I do hereby hypothecate & pledge to him the sd. Charles Wilkes the Senate painting of the declaration of Independence now in the hands of Mr. [Asher Brown] Durand the Engraver and also the Copper plate which He is engraving from the Same as collateral Security for any Sum which he may hazard by any accident befalling me. And this pledge shall remain in full force until all and every Note or Notes which He may have endorsed for me shall be paid & Cancelled." Trumbull is likely referring to his original painting of this famous event, which was begun in Paris at the suggestion of Thomas Jefferson. Trumbull was later commissioned by the Congress to paint a 12 by 18 foot version based on this original. This larger painting was sold to Congress in 1819, so it is likely the original smaller version that remained in his possession (now at Yale University Art Gallery) that was being used as collateral for a loan. Between the last few lines of text are additional notations in pencil, which have faded, but are still legible. Docketed on the verso. The document is detached along the lower edge and there is minor loss of paper along the upper fold.

    Charles Wilkes (1764-1833) was promoted to president of the Bank of New York in 1825, a position he held until his retirement in 1832. Engraver Asher B. Durand (1796-1886) made his name with his 1823 engraving of Trumbull's Declaration. He turned to painting in the 1830s and helped to found the Hudson River School movement.

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2014
    8th-9th Wednesday-Thursday
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