Declaration of Independence Oil on Canvas by Horace Carpenter, after John Trumbull

This is a beautiful oil on canvas painting of the signing of the Declaration of Independence by American artist Horace L. Carpenter. Painted in the early 20th century, this historic rendition is based on the epic 1820 oil painting of the same scene by John Trumbull. 

John Trumbull started his painted masterpiece, “The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, July 4th, 1776," at Jefferson's residence in Paris. Trumbull later reported "I began the composition of the Declaration of Independence, with the assistance of his [Jefferson's] information and advice." Jefferson contributed a firsthand description and sketch of the Assembly Room for Trumbull. In the painting, the committee responsible for the draft, John Adams, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin, are all depicted to the right of center. Trumbull painted Jefferson from life for his Declaration painting, and made three miniatures of the likeness. He dedicated himself to portraying from life as many of the forty-eight signers as he could. As a result, the original painting, located in the Yale University Art Gallery, was not completed until 1820.

This painting was completed by American artist, illustrator, and writer Horace L. Carpenter (1857-1947). Carpenter was educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, studying under Thomas Eakins, as well as the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art and the New York Art Students League. Among his earliest attributed works are illustrations of books published in the early 1890s and magazines such as Cosmopolitan and the 1897 issue of The Chap-Book. As an independent artist in Philadelphia, Carpenter painted historical paintings for private clients and patrons in New York and Delaware. 

The Society of Independent Artists lists four of Carpenter’s paintings exhibited at Independence Hall, A Summer Shower and The Bird Bath in 1917, and Horta, the Azores and Building Castles in 1919. The Library of Congress Copyright Office in 1919 lists a painting by Carpenter portraying Caesar Rodney meeting Delegate Thomas McKean on the steps of the State House in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776. Horace Carpenter served as superintendent and then curator of Independence Hall in Philadelphia from 1916 to 1946, and his rendition of “The Declaration of Independence” was most likely painted in this time period. 

A skillfully rendered piece commemorating one of the proudest moments in the history of the United States, this painting would make a beautiful addition to any early American history collection.


The painting is in very good condition. Oil on canvas. Colors are still vibrant. No significant chipping or cracking to paint. Pencil inscription to stretcher verso, "Copy by Horace L. Carpenter". In a restored period gilt wooden frame. Painting has been cleaned, with only minor touch-ups to small abrasion to canvas near the foot of sitter with crossed legs and touch-ups to wear to frame. Painting dimensions: 14” H x 22” W (by sight).

Framed dimensions: 18" H x 26 ¼" W x 1” D.

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