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 Since then they have endured as indispensable icons, serving as historical documents and timeless reminders of the nation's unprecedented beginnings.


Tara Kennnedy
Associate Publicity Director
Bloomsbury Publishing

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’s group portrait permits comparisons of the painters’ various paths to artistic accomplishment and reveals the mix of cooperation and competition that shaped their careers. Virginia Anderson, The New York Times Book Review

Paul Staiti's book focuses on the men he calls 'the five great American artists of the late eighteenth century': Charles Willson Peale, Benjamin West, John Singleton Copley, John Trumbull and Gilbert Stuart. In Of Arms and Artists, their experience in and depictions of the Revolution provide an effect similar to a series of well-done portraits introduced by a knowledgeable guide. The Wall Street Journal

In his rousing overture to this altogether exciting and innovative history of the American Revolution, professor of fine arts Staiti reminds us that patriotism requires a shared identity and shared values, and that this conceptual unity is created, in part, by powerful and heroic images. . . . . Staiti brings new vibrancy and meaning to boldly revolutionary paintings that both commemorate the suffering, conviction, and valor of a specific time and address the timeless struggle for justice and freedom. Editors' Choice, Booklist (☆ starred review)

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