|Title||Fort Trumbull, Connecticut|
|Artist/Maker||Seth Eastman (1808 - 1875)|
|Medium||Oil on canvas|
|Dimensions||h. 24.38 x w. 35.25 in. ( h. 61.9 x w. 89.5 cm)|
|Credit Line||U.S. Senate Collection|
In 1775 Governor Jonathan Trumbull recommended the building of a fortification at the port of New London to protect the seat of the government of Connecticut. Built on a rocky point of land near the mouth of the Thames River on Long Island Sound, the fort was completed in 1777 and named for Governor Trumbull, who served from 1769 to 1784. In 1781 during the Revolutionary War, the fort was attacked and captured by British forces under the command of Benedict Arnold. In the early 19th century, the fort was redesigned and rebuilt to meet changing military needs. The present fortification was built between 1839 and 1852 as a five-sided, four-bastion coastal defense fort. During the Civil War, Fort Trumbull served as an organizational center for Union troops and headquarters for the 14th Infantry Regiment. Here, troops were recruited and trained before being sent to war. Today, the fort serves as a public park and tourist attraction.
Seth Eastman imagines a windless day on the river below the fort as the setting for a quiet, pleasant scene. The everyday aspects of this painting–-the boaters and people on the shore–-are, to our eyes, of greater interest than the fort. Many of the carefully detailed figures (10 in all) seem to be regarding the fort, and the viewer’s attention is held in this foreground area by the keenly observed, finely painted rocks and water grasses. The apparently abandoned fort seems clearly a thing of the past, now merely part of the pastoral scenery. The lack of military activity is emphasized by a small figure leaning casually against the wall of the fort at the right.