Benjamin West 1738-1820
Benjamin West Locations
Benjamin West RA (October 10, 1738 ?C March 11, 1820) was an Anglo-American painter of historical scenes around and after the time of the American War of Independence. He was the second president of the Royal Academy serving from 1792 to 1805 and 1806 to 1820.
In 1760, sponsored by Smith and William Allen, reputed to be the wealthiest man in Philadelphia, West traveled to Italy where he expanded his repertoire by copying the works of Italian painters such as Titian and Raphael.
As painted by Gilbert Stuart, 1783-84West was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, whose portrait he painted. Franklin was also the godfather of West's second son, Benjamin.
In 1763, West moved to England, where he was commissioned by King George III to create portraits of members of the royal family. The king himself was twice painted by him. He painted his most famous, and possibly most influential painting, The Death of General Wolfe, in 1770, exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1771. Although originally snubbed by Sir Joshua Reynolds, the famous portrait painter and President of the Royal Academy, and others as over ambitious, the painting became one of the most frequently reproduced images of the period.
In 1772, King George appointed him historical painter to the court at an annual fee of £1,000. With Reynolds, West founded the Royal Academy of Arts 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. He was Surveyor of the King's Pictures from 1791 until his death. Many American artists studied under him in London, including Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, Gilbert Stuart, John Trumbull, and Thomas Sully. 
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. The Death of Wolfe 1770
60 x 84 1/2 in. (152.6 x 214.5 cm)
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa