John Trumbull, The Death of General Joseph Warren at the Battle of Bunker’s Hill, 1785, Yale University Art Gallery

Paul Staiti

profile pictureOf Arms and Artists: The American Revolution through Painters’ Eyes

Bloomsbury Publishing, October 2016
Hardcover & eBook: 400 pages, illustrations throughout, 16-page color insert

Available from Amazon,
from Bloomsbury Publishing,
and from your local bookseller.

The images accompanying the founding of the United States--of honored Founders, dramatic battle scenes, and seminal moments--gave visual shape to Revolutionary events and symbolized an entirely new concept of leadership and government. Since then they have endured as indispensable icons, serving as historical documents and timeless reminders of the nation's unprecedented beginnings. 

As Paul Staiti reveals in Of Arms and Artists, the lives of the five great American artists of the Revolutionary period--Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart--were every bit as eventful as those of the Founders with whom they continually interacted, and their works contributed mightily to America's founding spirit. Living in a time of breathtaking change, each in his own way came to grips with the history being made by turning to brushes and canvases, the results often eliciting awe and praise, and sometimes scorn. Ever since the passing of the last eyewitnesses to the Revolution, their imagery has connected Americans to 1776, allowing us to interpret and reinterpret the nation's beginning generation after generation. The collective stories of these five artists open a fresh window on the Revolutionary era, making more human the figures we have long honored as our Founders, and deepening our understanding of the whirlwind out of which the United States emerged.

2016 Autumn Book Tour

Wednesday, October 19th
Odyssey Book Shop
9 College St. South Hadley, MA


Sunday, October 23rd, 3:00pm to 5:00pm

New Britain Museum of American Art
56 Lexington St. New Britain, CT


Thursday, October 27th, 5:30pm to 7:00pm
American Philosophical Society
427 Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA
Click here to register.


Friday, October 28th, 7:30pm
David Library of the American Revolution
1201 River Road
Washington Crossing, PA
Click here to register.


Thursday, November 3rd, 6:00pm

Fraunces Tavern Museum
54 Pearl St. New York City, NY


Sunday, December 4th, 3:00pm
National Portrait Gallery
8th and F Streets NW
Washington, DC




Tara Kennnedy
Associate Publicity Director
Bloomsbury Publishing

Advance Praise for the Book

Staiti has put both words and pictures together in a graceful book that helps us understand why the American Revolution looks the way it does. “Of Arms and Artists” sets a new standard for the fusion of art history and political narrative, and will immediately become the authoritative account on the art of the American Revolution, and also the first successful attempt to explain why those faces and figures come down to us with such an iconic sheen. Joseph Ellis, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution

Through an artful narrative, Paul Staiti links the lives and works of these artists in intimate and fascinating detail. “Of Arms and Artists” is a delightful and informative tour through the family album of the American Revolution, and while the faces may be familiar, through Staiti’s work we gain new insight into the character of the artists, the people they painted, and the cause of the Revolution. William M. Fowler, Jr., author of American Crisis

Staiti intertwines art criticism and history in this account of five American artists from the Revolutionary period and the role their paintings played in constructing the narrative of the nation’s founding. The artists—Charles Willson Peale, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull, Benjamin West, and Gilbert Stuart—created the images that have helped to define the Founding Fathers for generations. Staiti skillfully shows how the Founding Fathers were attuned to the importance of visual art in constructing a public image and how they collaborated with artists to, ultimately, shape history. Publishers Weekly

This is an impressive, ambitious undertaking... A lively, splendid history that captures the times with insight, acumen, and a juggler's finesse. Kirkus Review (☆ starred review)

This rich narrative focuses on the lives of painters Charles Willson Peale, Benjamin West, John Trumbull, and John Singleton Copley along with portraitist Gilbert Stuart... an excellent look at an understudied topic... Highly Recommended. Library Journal