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“The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776” by John Trumbull

The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton December 26 1776

“The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776” by John Trumbull depicts the capture of the Hessian soldiers at the Battle of Trenton on the morning of December 26, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. At the centre is General George Washington aiding the mortally wounded Hessian Colonel. Trumbull’s intended was to show the compassion of General George Washington in this painting,

The Battle of Trenton was a pivotal battle during the American Revolutionary War. It followed Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River north of Trenton the previous night. Washington led the Continental Army against Hessian soldiers garrisoned at Trenton. After a brief battle, nearly the entire force of 900 Hessians was captured, with negligible losses to the Americans. The Hessians captured were paraded through the streets of Philadelphia to raise American morale. Anger at their presence helped the Continental Army recruit new soldiers. Most of the prisoners were sent to work as farm hands.

This painting is one of Trumbull’s series of historical paintings on the war, which also includes the Declaration of Independence and The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777. Trumbull composed the picture to provide an example to all soldiers, to show mercy to a fallen enemy.

John Trumbull was an American artist during the period of the American Revolutionary War and was notable for his historical paintings. His “Declaration of Independence” was used on the reverse of the commemorative bicentennial two-dollar bill. Trumbull incorporated the likeness of his portraits into his depiction of the signing of the “Declaration of Independence” that is on display in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.


Essential Facts:

  • Title:                The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776
  • Artist:               John Trumbull
  • Year:                 Between 1786 and 1828
  • Medium:          Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions     20.125 × 30 in (51.1 × 76.2 cm)
  • Museum:          Yale University Art Gallery

Artist Essential Facts:

  • Name:                    John Trumbull
  • Born:                     1756 – Lebanon, Colony of Connecticut, British America
  • Died:                      1843 (aged 87) – New York, New York, U.S.
  • Nationality:          American
  • Notable works:
    • John Adams
    • The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton, December 26, 1776
    • Declaration of Independence


“Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.”George Washington




Photo Credit: 1) John Trumbull [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons