(b Perth Amboy, NJ, Feb 18, 1766; d New York, Sept 28, 1839).
American painter, writer and Playwright. After working in England with Benjamin West between 1784 and 1787, Dunlap concentrated primarily on the theatre for the next 20 years. His two main interests are documented in his large Portrait of the Artist Showing his Picture of Hamlet to his Parents (1788; New York, NY Hist. Soc.). He wrote more than 30 plays and was called by some the ‘father of American drama’. He was the director and manager of the Park Theatre in New York from 1797 until its bankruptcy in 1805 and again, in its revived form, from 1806 to 1811. He began to paint miniatures to support his family in 1805 and travelled the East Coast of America as an itinerant artist. By 1817 he had become, in his own words, ‘permanently a painter’.
Dunlap always lived on the verge of poverty. To increase his income, he produced a large showpiece ...