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Catalog Data

John Trumbull, 6 Jun 1756 - 10 Nov 1843  Search this
Benjamin Silliman, 8 Aug 1779 - 24 Nov 1864  Search this
Oil on wood
Panel: 48.9 x 40 x 1.3cm (19 1/4 x 15 3/4 x 1/2")
Frame: 67.3 x 58.4 x 8.3cm (26 1/2 x 23 x 3 1/4")
Exhibition Label:
Born North Stratford (Trumbull), Connecticut
Benjamin Silliman was one of the earliest advocates for science in the United States. After his appointment as Yale College’s first professor of chemistry and natural history in 1802, he became a renowned educator, a popular public lecturer, and a founder of both the American Journal of Science (1818), where he was also an editor, and the National Academy of Sciences, which was established in 1863. Silliman was particularly active in the fields of minerology and geology and, as a devout evangelical Christian, argued that recent geological discoveries were reconcilable with biblical teachings about creation.
John Trumbull, Silliman’s uncle by marriage, painted this portrait in New York City, where Silliman was raising money to purchase the finest mineral collection in the United States for Yale. The scientist spent an hour and a half posing for Trumbull one morning before breakfast. He recorded that the artist “painted very rapidly.”
Maria Trumbull Silliman [Mrs. John Church], daughter of sitter; her granddaughter Angelica Schuyler Church; between 1915 and 1920 purchased by her cousin Alice Silliman Hawkes, Port Washington, N.Y.; gift 1968 to NPG.
Benjamin Silliman: Male  Search this
Benjamin Silliman: Law and Crime\Lawyer  Search this
Benjamin Silliman: Science and Technology\Scientist  Search this
Benjamin Silliman: Literature\Writer\Scientific writer  Search this
Benjamin Silliman: Education and Scholarship\Educator\Lecturer  Search this
Benjamin Silliman: Education and Scholarship\Educator\Professor\University  Search this
Benjamin Silliman: Education and Scholarship\Founder\College  Search this
Benjamin Silliman: Science and Technology\Scientist\Naturalist  Search this
Benjamin Silliman: Science and Technology\Scientist\Chemist  Search this
Benjamin Silliman: Science and Technology\Scientist\Earth scientist\Geologist  Search this
Portrait  Search this
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Alice Silliman Hawkes
Object number:
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
Currently not on view
Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery