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Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, John Trumbull
Date Issued: 1976-05-29
Postage Value: 13 cents

Commemorative issue
American Bicentennial
Surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown, John Trumbull

These souvenir sheets are actual postal emissions with an overall design that is larger than that of the stamps that are included. This sheet has five 13 -cent stamps, which may be removed from the sheet and used. However, very few of the stamps themselves were used as postage. The stamps are so placed that individuals are identifiable.

The painting Surrender of Lord Cornwallis by John Trumbull is on display in the Rotunda of the US Capitol. 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.

Surrender of Lord Cornwallis in the Capitol Rotunda is one of two paintings that artist John Trumbull completed on this subject. He painted this version between 1819 and 1820, basing it upon a small painting (approximately 20 inches by 30 inches) that he had first envisioned in 1785, when he began to “meditate seriously the subjects of national history, of events of the Revolution.” In 1787 he made preliminary drawings for the small painting. Although he struggled for a time with the arrangement of the figures, he had settled upon a composition by 1788.

To create portraits from life of the people depicted in this and other paintings, Trumbull traveled extensively. He obtained sittings with numerous individuals in Paris (including French officers at Thomas Jefferson’s house) and in New York. In 1791 he was at Yorktown and sketched the site of the British surrender. He continued to work on the small painting during the following years but did not complete it; nevertheless, in January 1817 he showed it and other works in Washington, D.C., and was given a commission to create four monumental history paintings for the Capitol. Surrender of Lord Cornwallis was the second of these large paintings that he completed. He exhibited it in New York City, Boston, and Baltimore before delivering it to the Capitol in late 1820. He completed the small painting around 1828; it is now part of the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery.

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