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Benjamin West

Born: Springfield (now Swarthmore), PA, 10 October 1738
Died: London, 11 March 1820
Nationality: American
Background: 

son of a rural innkeeper

Studies: 

with William Williams and John Valentine Heidt (Philadelphia); with Anton Ralphael Mengs at Capitoline Academy (Rome)

Career: 

1752-60:  works as portrait artist in Chester, PA; Philadelphia; and New York

1760 - Philadelphia patrons, the Allens and Shippens fund West’s trip to Rome to paint copies of Old Masters. In Rome, West meets Anton Raphael Mengs and Gavin Hamilton.

1763 -  moves to London

1768 - founding member of the Royal Academy of Art along with Angelica Kauffmann, Nathaniel Dance, Joshua Reynolds

1772 - becomes George III’s official History Painter after success of Death of General Wolfe (1770)

1792:  succeeds Joshua Reynolds as Royal Academy president

1802:  visits Paris for five weeks; meets Napoleon and Jacques-Louis David

1805:  forced to resign as RA president

Member of art academies in Bologna, Florence, and Parma

Travels

Philadelphia (1756-60), New York (1760), Italy (1760-63), London (1763-1820), Paris (1802)

Commissions from: 

George III (King of England)

Important Artworks: 

Death of Lord Nelson, 1806 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool)

Web Resources

Metmuseum: Benjamin West