1798 Battle of Bunker’s Hill Near Boston Engraving after John Trumbull

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1798 Battle of Bunker’s Hill Near Boston Engraving after John Trumbull


This dramatic Revolutionary War engraving of the Battle of Bunker Hill is after the famous 1785 oil-on-canvas by John Trumbull. Capturing the intensity of the battle, the engraving centers on Maj. John Small restraining a “lobster-back” from bayoneting Maj. Gen. Joseph Warren. Warren lies mortally wounded in the midst of chaos around him. In the background, British forces are seen cresting the last defenses of the brave, yet green army of Colonialsoldiers.


The Battle of Bunker Hill was fought on June 17, 1775, in the early stages of the American Revolutionary War. The battle is named after Bunker Hill in Charlestown, Massachusetts. Although it was the original objective of both the Colonial and British troops, the area was only peripherally involved in the battle. Rather, the majority of the combat took place on the adjacent Breed’s Hill. The battle pitted a more organized British force against a young, inexperienced American militia.  


Although considered a tactical victory for the British, it came at the cost of considerable casualties, including a large number of officers. The battle demonstrated that the inexperienced militia was able to stand up to the British army troops in battle. The battle results discouraged the British from any further frontal attacks against well-defended front lines. American casualties were comparatively fewer, although their losses included Gen. Joseph Warren.


During the battle, the patriot-turned-painter John Trumbull (1756-1843) was stationed in Roxbury on the far side of Boston, from whence he could hear the sounds of fighting. In late 1785, Trumbull resolved to devote himself to the depiction of Revolutionary War scenes, a series of eight epic pictures. From the beginning, Trumbull intended for the paintings to be later engraved for sale.


Trumbull began the oil-on-canvas of “Bunkers Hill” in 1785, in the studio of fellow painter and teacher Benjamin West in London. As soon as  “Bunker’s Hill” was completed, Trumbull sought to find a suitable engraver in London. He was unsuccessful, and thus turned to Paris, Germany, and the Low Countries in hopes of finding an artisan skilled enough to engrave his epic series. Discouraged and still without a competent engraver to take his oils to the intaglio plate, Trumbull returned to the United States in November 1789. He temporarily worked on portraits and side projects. Over ten years later, in 1798, “The Battle of Bunkers Hill near Boston” was finally engraved by Johann Gotthard von Mueller (1747-1830) and published by Antonio C. de Poggi in London.


Framed dimensions: 30" H x 39 3/8" W x 1 3/8" D.