Skip to main content

Benjamin West collection, 1771-circa 1879

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.

Series 1: Benjamin West Collection , 1771-circa 1879
5 Folders
Box 1

Two pages of West's accounts document his transactions with John "Alderman" Boydell between 1786-1792, including payment for prints of West's Battle of the Boyne (1781), probably Oliver Cromwell Dissolving the Long Parliament (1782), and Ophelia and Laertes (1792) which was included in Boydell's Shakespeare folio.
Twelve letters from West include a 1771 letter (with transcript) to his friend, 18th century portrait artist John Green, whom West had known in Pennsylvania and who briefly joined West in London in 1774. Largely autobiographical in content, the letter describes how West "imbarked [sic] on Historical painting" and comments how he has been "so fare successfull in it that I find my pictures sell for a prise [sic] that no living artist ever received before."
Other letters provide scattered documentation of West's association with high-profile politicians and landowners and include letters to: John Adams, November 1783, inviting Adams and "friends" (including John Jay with whom Adams signed the Treaty of Paris ending the American Revolution), to see the "Queen's House;" the U.S. Minister in Paris, Robert R. Livingston, Jr., June 1804 (with transcript), regarding West's medal and diploma from the "Department of the Fine Arts in the National Institute;" Taylor, March 1805, accepting an invitation from the Duke of Norfolk to the "annual dinner of the Society for the Encoragement [sic] of Arts;" Mr. T. Smith, December 1806, regarding a portrait of Sir Philip Sidney which West is painting; Wm. Wallace, January 1807, regarding an account; to Richard H. Davis, May 1809, offering to sell Davis the painting "Venus & Adonis by Titian," with Davis's response on the reverse; Sir William, June 1810, regarding visists from the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Gloucester to West's exhibition; S. Bourne, General Consul of the U.S. in Amsterdam, inquiring about a loan to a London goldsmith that was never repaid; Joseph Nollekins, March 1815, regarding recommendation of a sculptor, Mr. Franzone; Isaac Solly, April 1815, declining an invitation to a dinner; and a letter of thanks to Sir John Leicester, April 1819.
Artwork consists of two engravings of West including a stipple engraving by David Edwin, circa 1800, a print depicting West's birthplace, a print of a late 18th century portrait of West by Johanthan Spilsbury, and an ink drawing after Benjamin West of John Singleton Copley's son and eldest daughter, circa 1879. Also found is a ticket for Mr. Bishop to a lecture at the Royal Academy of Art.
Description Container Select
Accounts with John Boydell, 1792 September 25
1
1
Letters from Benjamin West, 1771-1819
1
2
Ticket to Royal Academy Lecture, 1818 February 19
1
3
Artwork, circa 1800-circa 1879
(oversized items housed in OV 5)
1
4
Oversized Artwork, circa 1800s
(from Box 1 F4)
OV 5

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.