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American, 18th – 19th century, male.

Active in England from 1763.

Born 10 October 1738, in Springfield (Pennsylvania); died 11 March 1820, in London.

Painter, draughtsman, engraver. Mythological subjects, religious subjects, portraits.

On his mother's death in 1756 Benjamin West the Elder moved to Philadelphia and then to New York, where he painted portraits, which were extremely well received. In June 1760 he arrived in Rome, where he was encouraged and supported by his compatriots, and he also visited Florence, Bologna and Venice. In 1763 he travelled to London with the intention of staying there only briefly before his return to the USA, but the flattering welcome he received persuaded him to settle there permanently. After his marriage - he had arranged for his fiancée to come from the USA to join him - he took on a pre-eminent position among the English painters of the day, and in 1765 he was chosen to be Director of the Incorporated Society. Three years later he was one of the commissioners in charge of organising the Royal Academy, of which he was a founder member. Four years later, on 24 March 1792 (following the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds), he was made President of the Royal Academy. Being a Quaker, West asked not to be given the rank of nobility to which his election entitled him. Though almost forgotten as a painter today, he was considered so remarkable among his own contemporaries that he was retained as President of the Royal Academy for almost 30 years. He was buried in Saint Paul's Cathedral....