Descriptive data
  • John Trumbull
  • The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777
  • Paintings
  • 18th-19th century
  • c. 1789- c. 1831
  • Oil on canvas
  • 51.1 x 75.9 cm (20 1/8 x 29 7/8 in.)
  • The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton is the third battle scene in which Trumbull chooses to commemorate the loss of a beloved general. The composition, arranged into discrete groupings of figures, represents different incidents of the battle simultaneously. In the center, General Hugh Mercer, cut off from his beleaguered men, with his horse shot out from beneath him, is mortally wounded by British grenadiers. At the left, where the struggle is most intense, Lieutenant Charles Turnbull bends backward against the cannon, recoiling from a grenadier's bayonet. The figure on a white horse at the far left is probably General Thomas Mifflin. On the right, the British Captain William Leslie, his sword dropping, presses the wound in his chest. In the center of the composition, General Washington, on a brown horse, enters the field accompanied by Doctor Benjamin Rush. Unlike the use of lights and shadows in Bunker's Hill and Quebec, the light in Princeton is less dramatic and more uniform, giving each incident equal value with the others. The result is a series of carefully arranged episodes rather than a unified battle scene. Despite its aesthetic shortcomings. Trumbull held this painting in high regard. When asked which of the paintings in the Trumbull Gallery he would save first from destruction, Trumbull replied: "I would save this painting of the battle of Princeton." Perhaps his lifelong idolization of Washington led him to choose the only scene in which he celebrated Washington's heroism in the battle.
  • Yale University Art Gallery, American Paintings and Sculpture
  • 101
  • Image and original data provided by Yale University
  • Yale University Art Gallery, Trumbull Collection, (1832.6.1)
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