Certainly, there is art for every occasion. For the Fourth of July, we offer five pieces of art that capture the American spirit.

We must start where it all began, with John Trumbull’s ambitious oil painting “Declaration of Independence.” The large canvas hangs in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, and depicts the members of the committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence presenting the document to Congress. Trumbull includes nearly all the singers of the document in his painting. He completed it in 1817.

A New Englander, Trumbull is widely known for his historic, Revolutionary War paintings.

There may not be a better known sculpture in all the land than the Marine Corps Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery just outside Washington, D.C. The piece is better known by its nickname, the Iwo Jima Memorial. It is dedicated to all Marines who have died for their country, and is based on a photograph of the raising of the U.S. flag at Iwo Jima during World War II.

The photograph was shot by Joe Rosenthall. The memorial was designed by Felix de Weldon. It was constructed in 1954.

One of the best-known war paintings of all time is by the German-American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, “Washington Crossing the Delaware.” An oil-on-canvas painting, it shows Gen. George Washington standing near the bow of boat as he and his troops row across the icy Delaware River on Christmas night in 1776. The action signaled a surprise attack during the Battle of Trenton. It was considered a pivotal moment in the Revolutionary War.

Leutze completed it in 1851.

“American Gothic,” an oil-on-board painting by Iowan Grant Wood, captures the spirit of America as well as any other painting. It shows a farmer standing alongside his daughter. He is holding a pitchfork, and together they stand in front of their home. “American Gothic” suggests traditional early 1900s America, with the man laboring in the field and the woman tending to domestic chores.

Wood made the painting in 1930.

It’s only fitting to include a Maine artist, and we close with a nod to Barbara Ernst Prey of Tenants Harbor. After 9/11, Prey was moved by the number of flags she saw displayed on homes on her midcoast peninsula. She completed a watercolor series of paintings that depicted the flag and evocations of the flag in many manners of display and honor.

The series is understated and patriotic, but not jingoistic. Our favorite of the bunch is “God and Country,” which shows small, hand-held flags adorned red, white and blue ribbon to a pair of side-by-side white doors.


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