Mislabeled and undervalued – could there be anything worse for an artist?
That seems to be what happened to Connecticut native and Colonial-era painter John Trumbull and a miniature painting lost long ago.
has been found in England, where it was mislabeled for generations.
A London art dealer bought the painting last month for less than 200 pounds, or $280 American dollars.
Bendor Grosvenor, a researcher for the dealer, said the miniature, ascribed to "Humbert," turns out to be one of many by Trumbull and was worth closer to $22,000. Trumbull is best known for his rendering of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
The newly rediscovered miniature portrait is a 1793 likeness of Philadelphia lawyer William West. It turned up in an estate auction in the southwest England community of Devon.
The people who possessed the West portrait for years may have misread Trumbull's signature as "Humbert," Grosvenor said. The Philip Mould art dealership found Trumbull's signature on the back of the painting, he said.
About John Trumbull
- Born in Lebanon, Conn., in 1756.
- Son of early Connecticut Gov. Jonathan Trumbull.
- Well-known for the approximately 250 miniature portraits.
- Several Trumbull works hang in the U.S. Capitol, including a version of "The Declaration of Independence," "Surrender of General Burgoyne," "Surrender at Yorktown" and "Washington Resigning His Commission."
- Yale University has one of the largest collections of his works. Trumbull sold more than two dozen paintings and scores of miniatures to the university in 1831 for an annual payment of $1,000.
- Many of his large paintings also hang in the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford.