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Thomas Paine; Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc. Photography by Edward Owen

Artist/Maker: John Trumbull (1756-1843)

Created: 1788

Origin/Purchase: London

Materials: oil on wood

Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.9 (4 x 3 1/2 in.)

Location: Parlor

Provenance: Thomas Jefferson; provenance unknown until purchased by Mrs. Arthur M. Greenwood; by purchase to Thomas Jefferson Foundation in 1957

Accession Number: 1957-28

Historical Notes: A miniature of Thomas Paine was a present for Jefferson from John Trumbull who painted it in 1788 while Paine and Trumbull were both in London. Trumbull knew that Jefferson wanted a portrait of "the first public advocate of the American Revolution" for he had asked Trumbull the previous year if he could get Mather Brown, the American painter then in London for whom Jefferson and John Adams sat in 1786, to draw his picture. When Jefferson received the miniature, he wrote Trumbull, "I am to thank you a thousand times for the portrait of Mr. Paine, which is a perfect likeness ...."[1]

Paine, who was born in England, came to America in 1774 with a letter of introduction from Benjamin Franklin. He edited the Pennsylvania Magazine and wrote Common Sense, the famous political pamphlet that galvanized support for America's separation from England. Paine's popular work, written for all to understand, paved the way for the writing of the Declaration.

-Text from Stein, Worlds, 124


  1. ^ Jefferson to Trumbull, January 12, 1789, in PTJ, 14:440. Letterpress copy available from the Library of Congress. Transcription available at Founders Online.