Accretions of Space and Time: The Environmental Art of John Trumbull


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


History of Art


This dissertation reexamines the art of John Trumbull (1756-1843). Although Trumbull has long been regarded as a preeminent history painter, this dissertation argues that his oeuvre extends far beyond painting. To understand his art, we must study the installations and environments which he designed to accompany his paintings. His works of art should not be regarded as just visual compositions, discrete objects, or bounded two-dimensional planes. Rather, they should be perceived holistically, as multisensory, environmental projects, responding both to their surrounding spaces and to the rhythms and structures of time. Space and time are an integral part of Trumbull’s art theory, and, as the research of other scholars suggests, this complex model has a broad resonance in early American art.