Independence Review

Independence Review

A photo essay. To view all 10 images, check out the email edition.

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As America’s 247th Independence Day approaches, you can, at the Yale University Art Gallery, return to the very first. John Trumbull’s famous painting The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776, meticulously created over the course of decades, shows the event the holiday memorializes, with New Haven’s own Roger Sherman given pride of place.

Chances are good you already know about that painting, which is permanently displayed near Trumbull’s other Revolution scenes. But you may not know that, on the floor below, the gallery exhibits several examples of Paul Revere’s silverwork, including one of “the only pieces of American silver overtly linked to the political turmoil that led up to the Revolutionary War.” You may not know that a room down there is devoted to Revolution-era domestic objects, from an intricate high chest to a flintlock rifle, or that another room is built from the actual windows, mouldings and wide, creaking floorboards of a Connecticut house built just before the Declaration.

I discovered most of that yesterday, when thoughts of July 4, 2023, sent me searching for—and finding—July 4, 1776.

Written and photographed by Dan Mims. Image 1 features John Trumbull’s The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776. Image 2 features detail of a high chest of drawers crafted circa 1770. Image 3 features a partial view of the 1760-1790 room within the gallery’s American Decorative Arts section. Image 4 features a trio of Trumbull’s Revolutionary War paintings. Image 5 features a “salt” (a table salt ramekin) smithed by Paul Revere. Image 6 features period chairs in the Rowley room, with a non-period mat covering the centuries-old floorboards.

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