Benjamin West

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Benjamin West
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Benjamin West

Benjamin West (October 10, 1738March 11, 1820) was an Anglo-American painter of historical scenes around and after the time of the American Revolution.

Born in Springfield, Pennsylvania (now Swarthmore) as the tenth child of an innkeeper. Benjamin West was an autodidact. While excelling at the arts, "he had little [formal] education and, even when president of the Royal Academy, could scarcely spell."(Hughes, 70) From 1746 to 1759, West worked in Pennsylvania painting portraits while fostered by the provost of the College of Philadelphia, Dr. William Smith. Also, during this time West met John Wollaston, a famous painter who immigrated from London. West picked up on many of Wollaston's techniques dealing with the shimmer of silk and satin as well as some of "his mannerisms, the most prominent of which was to give all his subjects large almond-shaped eyes, which clients thought very chic."(Hughes, 71) In 1759, he moved to Italy where he expanded his repertoire by copying the works of Italian painters such as Titian and Raphael.

In 1763, West moved to England, where he was commissioned by King George III to create portraits of members of the royal family. In 1772, King George appointed him historical painter to the court. West became friends with the English portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds and founded the Royal Academy of Arts with Reynolds in 1768. He was the second president of the Royal Academy from 1792 to 1805. He was re-elected in 1806 and was president until his death in 1820.

West is known for his large scale history paintings, which use expressive figures, colours and compositional schemes to help the spectator to identify with the scene represented. West called this "epic representation".

He died in London.

Major Works

Works Cited

Hughes, Robert. American Visions. New York: Random House, 1997.

External links

de:Benjamin West fr:Benjamin West pl:Benjamin West

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