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Benjamin West collection, 1771-circa 1879

West, Benjamin, 1738-1820

Painter, Portrait painter

The papers of Benjamin West in the Archives of American Art were digitized in 2009.The bulk of the papers have been scanned and total 42 images.

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art

Collection Information

Size: 0.3 Linear feet

Summary: This collection measures 0.3 linear feet and consists of 19 items dated 1771-circa 1879, relating to expatriate painter Benjamin West. West, who settled in London and was renowned for his portraits and his paintings of historical events, was the first internationally known American painter. The collection provides scattered documentation of West's activities including during the time of his appointment as historical painter to King George III, and contains letters from West, artwork including 2 engravings of the artist, 2 pages of West's accounts, and a ticket to a lecture at the Royal Academy of Art.

Biographical/Historical Note

Expatriate painter Benjamin West (1738-1829) was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania and worked in Pennsylvania and New York before settling in London as a portrait painter and historical painter to King George III. West initially studied with local artist William Williams in Pennsylvania and began painting portraits in Pennsylvania and New York in the 1750s. Around 1760 he traveled to Italy to study art and then settled in London as a portrait painter and remained in Europe for the rest of his life. He received many commissions under the patronage of George III and in 1772 was appointed historical painter to the King.

Provenance

The Benjamin West collection was acquired through gifts and purchases from various sources between 1955 and 1981. Nine letters and 2 engravings were donated by Charles Feinberg, 1955-1958; 2 additional letters were lent by Feinberg for microfilming in 1967 and subsequently purchased by AAA in 1968. Account book pages were purchased from Walter R. Benjamin Autographs, circa 1960, and one letter was purchased from Charles Hamilton Autographs, Inc., in 1963. A wood engraving was transferred from the National Portrait Gallery Library in 1981; the sources of an ink drawing and a print are unknown.

Funding

Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art