On July 4th 2011 at the Old Colony House on Washington Square in Newport Rhode Island several dozen people gathered to be a part of history. Well, turns out there were many histories that were a part of that day.
STAGERightRI, Newport Historical Society and Washington Square Roots sponsored and produced the Bill Heydt re-creation of the famous John Trumbull painting Declaration of Independence depicting the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
This painting was actually created in Trumbull’s and Jefferson’s mind. It never really happened. During this time period the people who were debating the declaration changed so often because the debate was long and drawn out. So in truth, all of these men were never in the same room at the same time. Even so, we have burned John Trumbull’s version on our currency and in our minds to portray how it looked the day the declaration was signed.
The title of Heydt’s re-creation of Declaration of Independence is “On This Day, July 4, 2011, These People of Rhode Island Came Together”. On that day there were people there who wanted to celebrate the signing, and there were people who wanted to honor their decedents who were actual signers of the Declaration of Independence. But all of them were there because they are proud Americans who wanted to show their love for their country, and to also in some spiritual way reach out and touch the brave men who founded our great nation.
The event was conceived and directed by Tom C. Erb of STAGERightRI. “I wanted to take a brief moment and turn back the clock so we would remember where we came from, and to have a snapshot of the local, regional and out of state people who came together to remember their own history that directly created all of our history” Erb Said.
The collaboration with Bill Heydt was actually a casual conversation over breakfast. Heydt says “I was having breakfast with a friend when I ran into Tom at the Newport Creamery. He said he was frustrated about a project he was working on and when he told be about the Trumbull re-creation I was very intrigued and told him I was interested in painting the re-creation.”
Erb and Heydt approached Liz Drayton of the Washington Square Roots and Ruth Taylor at the Newport Historical Society and it came together as part of the Washington Square Celebration on July 4th.
“I loved the collaborative spirit surrounding the re-staging of Trumbull’s “Signing of the Declaration of Independence” painting. It brought out the best in everyone! The 2nd floor of the Old Colony House was abuzz with the excitement and voices of colonial bedecked ancestors and neighbors who struck numerous poses for director Tom C. Erb and painter Bill Heydt. I was delighted to see Bill’s final painting – quintessential Heydt! You can’t help but smile. He really captured the spirit of the day in the faces of the eclectic slice of America in the room that day. It was a perfect way for all of us to celebrate the 4th of July together as a community. ” said Liz Drayton
All paintings are also available as limited edition giclee reproductions.