The Sortie Made by the Garrison of Gibraltar

Artist: John Trumbull (American, Lebanon, Connecticut 1756–1843 New York)

Date: 1789

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 71 x 107 in. (180.3 x 271.8 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Purchase, Pauline V. Fullerton Bequest; Mr. and Mrs. James Walter Carter and Mr. and Mrs. Raymond J. Horowitz Gifts; Erving Wolf Foundation and Vain and Harry Fish Foundation Inc. Gifts; Gift of Hanson K. Corning, by exchange; and Maria DeWitt Jesup and Morris K. Jesup Funds, 1976

Accession Number: 1976.332


This painting depicts the events of the night of November 26, 1781, when British troops, long besieged by Spanish forces at Gibraltar, made a sortie, or sudden attack, against the encroaching enemy batteries. The focal point of the painting is the tragic death of the Spanish officer Don Jose de Barboza. Abandoned by his fleeing troops, he charged the attacking column alone, fell mortally wounded, and, refusing all assistance, died near his post. Trumbull portrays him rejecting the aid of General George Eliott, commander of the British troops. This work, the largest and last of three versions of the subject that Trumbull executed between 1786 and 1789, demonstrates his ambition to solidify his reputation on the basis of the highly respected genre of history painting.