The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Engraver Asher Brown Durand American
After John Trumbull American

Not on view

This engraving reproduces Trumbull's famous painting, now at the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven. Durand was commissioned by Trumbull to engrave the plate for $3,000. Engraved text below cites a copyright date of December 20th, 1820, but the work took Durand three years to complete, and was published late in 1823. Trumbull admired Durand's ability, was influenced by the fact he was a fellow American, but also appreciated his willingness to accept less than half the fee demanded by the British engraver James Heath. On October 20, 1823, Trumbull wrote to the Marquis de Lafayette: "I have sent to...Paris...a proof impression (avant la lettre) of a print which has been engraved here from my painting of the Declaration of Independence, by a young engraver, born in this vicinity, and now only twenty-six years old. This work is wholly American, even to the paper and printing, a circumstance which renders it popular here, and will make it a curiosity to you, who knew America when she had neither painters nor engravers, nor arts of any kind, except for those of stern utility." The painter Daniel Huntington, wrote of Durand's work, "he has preserved the likenesses with great fidelity, combining a free and vigorous use of the lines with a broad and rich effect of light and shade most attractive to the eye."

The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, Asher Brown Durand (American, Jefferson, New Jersey 1796–1886 Maplewood, New Jersey), Engraving; sixth state of six

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