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Sortie Made by the Garrison of Gibraltar in the Morning of the 27 of November 1781. Thomas Jefferson Foundation.

Artist/Maker: William Sharp (1746-1824) engraver, after John Trumbull (1756-1843)

Created: 1799

Origin/Purchase: London

Materials: engraving with gouache

Dimensions: 65.7 × 86.7 (25 7/8 × 34 1/8 in.)

Provenance: Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1967

Accession Number: 1967-161

Historical Notes: In the hope he could generate interest in his work in England, John Trumbull depicted the recent victory of the British over the Spanish at Gibraltar. Benjamin West, Trumbull's mentor, recommended the subject to him, perhaps to rival John Singleton Copley's huge Siege of Gibraltar.[1] The Sortie portrays the death of a valiant Spanish officer, Don José de Barboza, who alone rushed British troops after he was abandoned by his own men. He refused aid offered by the British, preferring to die on the battlefield. Trumbull made three versions of this painting, but none achieved the unequivocal acclaim in London that Trumbull desired. In May 1789 Trumbull reported to Jefferson

With your Books I took the liberty to enclose three or four descriptions of my picture of Gibraltar. There are People here foolish enough to be half affronted that I have paid so much compliment to the Spanish Officer.[2]

Although Jefferson sent Trumbull a subscription for "a copy of your print of Gibraltar" on June 21, 1789, the engraving was not published until 1799.[3] Jefferson's engraving is unlocated.

-Text from Stein, Worlds, 162

Further Sources


  1. ^ Helen A. Cooper, John Trumbull: The Hand and Spirit of a Painter (New Haven: Yale University Art Gallery, 1982), 35.
  2. ^ Trumbull to Jefferson, May 29, 1789, in PTJ, 15:158. Transcription available at Founders Online.
  3. ^ Jefferson to Trumbull, June 21, 1789, in PTJ, 15:205. Transcription available at Founders Online.