See also:historical and portrait-painter, was
See also:born on the loth of
See also:October 1738, at
See also:Springfield, Pennsylvania, of an old Quaker
See also:family from Buckinghamshire . When a boy of seven he began to show his inclinations to
See also:art . According to a well-known
See also:story, he was sitting by the
See also:cradle of his
See also:child, watching its sleep, when the
See also:infant happened to smile in its dreams, and, struck with its beauty,
See also:young Benjamin got some paper, and drew its portrait . The career thus begun was prosecuted amid many difficulties; but his perseverance overcame every obstacle, and at the age of eighteen he settled in
See also:Philadelphia as a portrait-painter . After two years he removed to New
See also:York, where he practised his profession with considerable success . In 176o, through the assistance of some friends, he was enabled to
See also:complete his
See also:education by a visit to Italy, where he remained nearly three years . Here he acquired reputation, and was elected a member of the
See also:academies of Italy . On the expiry of his
See also:Italian visit he settled in
See also:London as an historical painter . His success was not long doubtful .
See also:George III. took him under his
See also:special patronage; and commissions flowed in upon him from all quarters . In 1768 he was one of the four artists who submitted to the
See also:king the plan for a royal academy, of which he was one of the earliest members; and in 1772 he was appointed historical painter to the king . He devoted his
See also:attention mainly to the
See also:painting of large pictures on historical and religious subjects, conceived, as he believed, in the
See also:style of the old masters, and executed with
See also:great care and much taste .
So high did he stand in public favour that on the
See also:death of
See also:Reynolds, in 1792, he was elected his successor as
See also:president of the Royal Academy, an
See also:office which he held for twenty-eight years . In 1802 he took
See also:advantage of the opportunity afforded by the peace of
See also:Amiens to visit
See also:Paris, and inspect the magnificent collection of the masterpieces of art, pillaged from the gallery of almost every capital in
See also:Europe, which then adorned the Louvre . On his return to London he devoted himself anew to the labours of his profession, which were, however, somewhat broken in upon by quarrels with some of the members of the Royal Academy . In 1804 he resigned his office, but an all but unanimous
See also:request that he should return to the
See also:chair induced him to recall his resignation .
See also:Time did not at all weaken the energy with which he laboured at his easel . When sixty-five he painted one of his largest
See also:works, " Christ healing the Sick." This was originally designed to be presented to the
See also:Quakers in Philadelphia, to assist in erecting a hospital . On its completion it was exhibited in London to immense crowds, and was
See also:purchased by the
See also:British Institution for 3000 guineas, West sending a replica to Philadelphia . His subsequent works were nearly all on the same
See also:grand scale as the picture which had been so successful, butthey did not meet with very ready sale . He died in London on the rrth of
See also:March 182o, and was buried in St Paul's . West's works, which fond
See also:criticism ranked during his
See also:life with the great productions of the old masters, are now considered as in general formal, tame, wanting that freedom of nature and that life which
See also:genius alone can breathe into the
See also:canvas . His " Death of Wolfe " is interesting as introducing
See also:costume instead of the classical draperies which had been previously universal in similar subjects by English artists; and his "
See also:Battle of La Hogue " is entitled to an honourable place among British historical paintings . An account of West's life was published by Galt (The Progress of Genius, 1816) .
See also H . T . Tuckerman,
See also:Book of the Artists (N.Y., 1868) .
NICHOLAS WEST (1461-1533)
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