An American Revolution Drawing Found in a NY Apartment

An American Revolution Drawing Has Been Found by Matthew Skic, a Curator at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia.

Mar 28, 2024By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
An American Revolution Drawing
Du Simitière’s sketch. Courtesy of the Museum of the American Revolution.


An American Revolution drawing has been found by Matthew Skic, who is a curator at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. Overall, it is the initial portrait of the Revolutionary War’s North Carolina Brigade in a private collection. The now-authenticated drawing by Pierre Eugène du Simitiére shows two women and a newborn placed into a wagon escorted by troops.


An American Revolution Drawing in Judith Hernstadt’s Home

An American Revolution Drawing
The rearside of Du Simitière’s sketch. Courtesy of the museum.


The precious item is now one of just two pieces that include personal images of the Revolution‘s often-overlooked female fighters. The other example is Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s 1782 picture of American encampments in High Point, which depicts a single lady handing troops meals. Skic discovered the pen-and-ink doodle in the Upper East Side home of art collector and developer Judith Hernstadt.


Hernstadt notably bought her house from Harry Winston. Skic said he met Hernstadt at a private event that the museum threw in New York in 2019. He and the institution’s philanthropy officer Danielle Smereczynski first viewed Hernstadt’s collection in August 2023. “While there, we started discussing horses, and Judith showed us this little sketch”, he recalled. “I was shocked to see what I saw”, he also added.


An American Revolution Drawing
Skic studying the sketch. Courtesy of the museum.


According to a museum press release, Hernstadt purchased the drawing from a New York artefacts dealer in the 1970s. An inscription alongside the sketch reads: “an exact representation of a waggon belonging to the North Carolina brigade of continental troops which passed through Philadelphia, August done by…”. The remainder of the text disappeared during a paper fix. The version also features five studies of two duelling male figures.

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Women Were Not Rare During the Revolution

native american revolutionary war yorktown
The Surrender of Cornwallis by John Trumbull, 1787. The British surrender at Yorktown would not be the end of the fighting for Indigenous nations. Source: US History.


Hernstadt allowed him to take the piece back to Philadelphia for additional research, before donating it to the museum. Skic’s efforts got backing by the Raleigh-based North Carolina Society of the Cincinnati, which descends from Revolutionary War leaders in the state. Additional evaluations of writing and comparative art exams linked the sketch to Du Simitiére.


Researchers are still looking through Du Simitière’s various writings and sketches at the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Library of Congress to see if this sketch led to something more. Still, the discovery is noteworthy on its own. Women were not as rare throughout the Revolution. Approximately 2,000 women tented alongside their conscripted husbands and fathers, conducting domestic responsibilities in the meantime.


the winter of valley forge washington
Washington and another officer at Valley Forge. Source: The American Revolution Institute.


They were likely kept out of sight because Washington despised their presence, calling women and children “a clog upon every movement.” This sketch will be on display at the museum in a few weeks, providing a rare glimpse into the genuine Revolution.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.