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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Painting: 18th century: Mary Hopkinson
Studio of Benjamin West

Studio of Benjamin West

(born Springfield, PA 1738 -- died London, England 1820)

Portrait of Benjamin West
Benjamin West's Self-Portrait

Benjamin West made his reputation in England as the official painter to King George III. He was born a Quaker in Springfield, Pennsylvania, where his parents ran a small inn. Growing up, West showed talent for painting and moved to Philadelphia to further his education. Two families paid for his trip to Italy, where he made copies of European paintings for them. West then traveled to England and showed his paintings of historical scenes to great acclaim. On the advice of his American patrons, he decided to stay in London, where he lived the rest of his life, earning an international reputation as a history painter. His legacy also included the establishment of the Royal Academy of Art, becoming its second president, and the training of three generations of American artists who traveled abroad to study with him.

Image Credits: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution