Declaration of Independence
Original Author: John Trumbull
Created: 1818
Medium: Oil on canvas

Declaration of Independence (1818)

This twelve-by-eighteen-foot painting by John Trumbull, entitled Declaration of Independence, depicts the presentation of the first draft of the Declaration of Independence to the Second Continental Congress on June 28, 1776. Thomas Jefferson, at center, places the document before the president of the Congress, John Hancock. Standing with Jefferson are other members of the drafting committee: John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert Livingston, and Benjamin Franklin. Less than a week later, on July 4, 1776, the declaration was signed.

Trumbull originally intended to show all fifty-six signers of the declaration. In the final execution, however, he excluded fourteen members for whom he could not find an authoritative image—among them were Virginia signers Carter Braxton, Thomas Nelson Jr., and Francis Lightfoot Lee. The painter also included five patriots who did not actually sign the declaration.

The United States Congress commissioned the painting in 1817. Trumbull finished it in 1818, and it was installed in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in 1826.