© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Johann Gotthard von Müller, German (1747 - 1830)
After John Trumbull, American (Lebanon, CT 1756 - 1843 New York, NY)
Battle of Bunker's Hill
Work Type
Creation Place: Europe, Germany
Physical Descriptions
sheet: 61.6 × 83.2 cm (24 1/4 × 32 3/4 in.)
plate: 58.4 × 80 cm (23 × 31 1/2 in.)
framed: 83.8 × 104.3 × 4.1 cm (33 × 41 1/16 × 1 5/8 in.)
Francis Calley Gray, bequest; to William Gray, his nephew, 1856, gift; to Harvard University, 1857
State, Edition, Standard Reference Number
Standard Reference Number
And. 16, Le Bl. 13
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Gift of William Gray from the collection of Francis Calley Gray
Object Number
European and American Art
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Label Text: The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820 , written 2017
John Trumbull, Harvard class of 1773, was among the first artists to use the new mode of history painting to depict events from the American past. In 1785, while studying with Benjamin West in London, he conceived of a series of large-scale oil paintings chronicling significant battles and diplomatic achievements from the Revolutionary War. Trumbull eloquently articulated the stakes of his project in a 1786 letter to his friend John Eliot: “I am now . . . employ’d writing, in my language, the History of our country.”
Trumbull ultimately painted eight Revolutionary scenes and produced prints after two of these works. In 1799, he dispatched impressions of Death of General Montgomery and Battle of Bunker’s Hill to the Philosophy Chamber. Though these engravings depict scenes of American defeat, they reference ancient sculptures and emphasize the Classical ideals that stood at the core of the new nation’s identity: valor, bravery, and sacrifice for one’s country. In Battle of Bunker’s Hill, British Major John Small prevents a soldier from bayonetting the fallen American general Joseph Warren, who has just taken a musket shot to the head. The adjacent print depicts the noble death of General Montgomery, who expired while leading an attack on the British fortification at Quebec.

Publication History

Ethan Lasser, ed., The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017), p. 120, Plate 56b

Exhibition History

The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/19/2017 - 12/31/2017; The Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, 04/17/2018 - 07/15/2018

Related Works

This record was created from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator; it may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of European and American Art at am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu