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Exploring Fact, Fiction & Beauty in Trumbull’s “Battle of Bunker Hill”
Location: Casey Academic Center
CHESTERTOWN, MD—Distinguished art historian John Walsh, Director Emeritus of the J. Paul Getty Museum and Adjunct Professor of Art History at Yale University, will examine an iconic painting by American artist John Trumbull when he visits Washington College on Thursday, January 31. His talk, “John Trumbull’s Battle of Bunker Hill and Historical Fiction,” will take place in the Casey Academic Center Forum at 5:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
As a young adjutant to General Washington, artist John Trumbull witnessed from a safe distance the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775. Ten years later, while living in London, he painted a scene he titled The Death of General Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill, which became one of the best known of all American history paintings. In his talk, Walsh looks at the painting in detail to see how Trumbull constructed it, to what extent he reflects the historical record, and the ways in which fiction serves his purposes better than mere fact.
Walsh led the Getty Museum for 17 years ending in October 2000. He directed dramatic growth in the museum’s facilities and in the breadth and size of its collections and outreach. He earned an undergraduate degree from Yale and a master’s and doctorate from Columbia University and built an impressive career that included stops at the Frick Collection and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He also has taught at Barnard, Columbia, Harvard and Yale, and he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997. He has authored numerous articles and catalogues and several books, including Jan Steen, The Drawing Lesson and The J. Paul Getty Museum and Its Collections: A Museum for the New Century. In the world of contemporary art, he has organized exhibitions of the painter Sheridan Lord and the painter-printmakers Ed Ruscha and Leon Kossoff and curated an international exhibition of the video artist Bill Viola.
Walsh’s visit is sponsored by the Department of Art and Art History, the Kohl Gallery, the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, and the Art History Club.