Dictionary of Art and Artists


that Changed the World


  Lascaux Caves Manesse illuminated Massys Callot Friedrich Picasso
  Tutankhamen's tomb Lorenzetti Grunewald Rembrandt Constable Matisse
  Europa and Minotaur Karlstein Castle Baldung Claude Lorrain Delacroix Marc
  Banquet Tomb Limbourg brothers Altdorfer Velazquez Turner Kandinsky
  Pompeii Van Eyck Cranach Vermeer Ingres Monet
  Birth of Christianity Della Francesca Holbein Rigaud Manet Chirico
  Hagia Sophia Uccello Titian Watteau Burne-Jones Modigliani
  Book of Kells Mantegna Bruegel Canaletto Seurat Chagall
  St Benedict Botticelli Vicentino Boucher Van Gogh Kahlo
  Bayeux Tapestry Anonymous Arcimboldo Fragonard Toulouse-Lautrec Dali
  Donizo manuscript Durer El Greco Gainsborough Munch Ernst
  Liber Scivias Bosch Theodore de Bry John Trumbull Cezanne Hopper
  Carmina Burana Da Vinci Caravaggio David Gauguin Bacon
  Falcon Book Michelangelo Rubens Gros Degas Warhol
  Giotto Raphael Brouwer Goya Klimt  

From Lascaux to Warhol

Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truth,
passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius,
but never abandoned.

William Butler Yeats




A Tea Party that Led to Democracy

The American Declaration of Independence



We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness ...; that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

United States Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776



An American version of London cartoon that denounces the "rape" of Boston in 1774 by the Intolerable Acts.


Washington and Lafayette look over the troops at Valley Forge


John Trumbull, The Battle of Bunker's Hill, (The death of the American General Warren),1786


The Declaration of Independence


The Boston Tea Party triggered the Revolution. In 1767 England had imposed new customs duties on her English colonies. The wrath of the colonists culminated in a boycott of English wares, which soon led to the abolition of most duties. England, insisting on a demonstration of authority, maintained the duty on tea. Ensuring the East India Company monopoly on tea and other staples, this policy left American tea merchants burdened with high duties on the goods they imported from England.

The American colonists, who had for some time considered declaring independence from England, took the duty on tea as a welcome excuse to do so. On 16 December 1773 open hostilities broke out. A group of Revolutionaries threw an entire ship's cargo of tea into the murky waters of Boston Harbor: 342 crates of tea worth 10,000 pounds sterling. Over 2,000 bystanders applauded the patriots' deed: "This is the most magnificent Movement of all. There is a dignity, a Majesty, a Sublimity, in this last Effort of the Patriots that I greatly admire. This destruction of the Tea is so bold, so daring, so firm, intrepid and inflexible, and it must have so important Consequences, and so lasting, that I cannot but consider it as an Epoch in History" was John Adams's enthusiastic response to this remarkable demonstration of colonial assertiveness. The English government retaliated swiftly, exacting harsh penalties. The thirteen American colonies reacted with open revolt. Weary of oppression and long accustomed to self-government on parliamentary lines, the American settlers refused to surrender their economic and political freedom to the English crown, which was thousands of nautical miles away. Knit together by the events in Boston, the Americans took their first united action as a free people by convening the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1774. England remained intransigent; a war was inevitable.

While George Washington, the Commander-in-Chief of the American Continental Army, was marching his troops from one battle to the next, the Declaration of Independence was being drawn up. It was signed on 4 July 1776 in the Philadelphia State House. Among the signers were Thomas Jefferson, its author, and Benjamin Franklin. Jefferson is quoted as saying: "I am not a friend to a very energetic government", although he wholeheartedly espoused the cause of American liberty. Another fervent patriot was the painter John Trumbull, who later founded the American Academy of Fine Arts in New York and became its first president. The son of an English governor of Connecticut who supported the colonists' struggle for independence, John Trumbull served as an aide-de-camp to George Washington during the American Revolution.

His most celebrated painting, which has become a symbol of the idealism that America stands for, depicts the signing of the Declaration of Independence as Thomas Jefferson described it to the artist.


John Trumbull
The Declaration of Independence


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