Object photography

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On View Barbara Weld Putnam Gallery.GALE.WALL

Object description

  • John Trumbull (American, 1756-1843)
  • Portrait of Alexander Hamilton, about 1792
  • Oil on canvas
  • United States
  • image H: 30 in, image W: 24 in (image H: 76.2 cm, image W: 61.0 cm)
  • Gift of George A. Ward, 1918
  • 106821


This is a half-length portrait of Alexander Hamilton. Three-quarters of his head are visible, with his face looking right. Hamilton has gray hair and is wearing a gray coat open at the neck and a lace cravat. There is a shadow across the lower part of the picture. Further Remarks: Portrait of Alexander Hamilton, 1757-1804. Alexander Hamilton was born in Nevis, a British Colony of the Leeward Islands, West Indies. Hamilton's early education was somewhat desultory, but he finally entered King's College (now Columbia) in 1773. His education was interrupted by the oncoming of the Revolution in which he engaged, serving with distinction and becoming aide-de-camp to Washington. With the surrender of Cornwalis, Hamilton retired, having served a term in the Continental Congress, to devote himself to the law, but political influence led to his appointment as Secretary of the Treasury in 1789. His marriage connected him to one of New York's richest and most influencial families and was the source of much assistance in furthering his desires for public service. His brilliant career was terminated by a duel with Aaron Burr in which he fell mortally wounded. John Trumbull, one of the foremost American portrait artists of the late 1700s, is best known for his paintings of the Founding Fathers. In this portrait of Hamilton, the first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, the artist's soft brushstrokes and subtle coloring create an elegant yet commanding likeness. Hamilton was a popular figure in Salem, mainly because his policies favored maritime trade. In 1805, a group of Salem citizens named their new assembly hall on Chestnut Street in his honor, and today Hamilton Hall remains a center of social and cultural life.