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U.S. Frigate Constitution with Commander Isaac Hull

Artist
Cornelius Tiebout, 1777 - 1832
Copy after
Thomas Birch, 1779 - 1851
Sitter
Isaac Hull, 9 Mar 1773 - 13 Feb 1843
Date
1813
Type
Print
Medium
Engraving on paper
Dimensions
Sheet: 55.5 × 80 cm (21 7/8 × 31 1/2")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
NPG.2012.93
Exhibition Label
This engraving of a crucial event in the War of 1812 pictures not one hero but two: the USS Constitution—nicknamed “Old Ironsides” because of her strength in deflecting the cannonballs of the British—and the ship’s commander, Isaac Hull (1773–1843), in the pendant portrait below. First commissioned as a naval lieutenant in 1798, Hull was an experienced officer by the start of the war. Spotting the British frigate Guerrière in the North Atlantic on August 19, 1812, Hull maneuvered his ship alongside it and ordered every starboard gun to fire. His agile and fearless leadership paid off: the Guerrière was destroyed. It was the first American victory over a British frigate and the first good news of the war.
Hull’s portrait—along with a detailed narration of the battle and the majestic depiction of the Constitution—memorializes the significance of the navy in America’s “second” war for independence.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection