John Trumbull (American, 1756–1843)
Graphite on off-white laid paper
4 15/16 x 3 1/8 in. (12.6 x 7.8 cm)
Gift of Robert W. de Forest, 1906 (06.1346.2)
Trumbull is considered the most learned artist and skilled draftsman of his generation in America. Between 1789 and 1791, he traveled the eastern seaboard of the United States drawing portrait studies of military heroes to ensure the accuracy of the likenesses he would render in his famed Revolutionary War paintings. His portrait drawing representing Brigadier General Hugh Mercer is one of thirteen extant studies for the painting The Death of General Mercer at the Battle of Princeton, January 3, 1777 (Yale University Art Gallery). Because his subject was deceased, Trumbull used for his model Mercer's son Hugh Jr.; he twice sketched the young man in Fredericksburg, Virginia, in April 1791.