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Benjamin West collection

Creator:
West, Benjamin, 1738-1820  Search this
Names:
Adams, John Quincy, 1767-1848  Search this
Boydell, John, 1719-1804  Search this
Livingston, Robert R., 1746-1813  Search this
Spilsbury, Jonathan, fl. 1766-1823  Search this
Extent:
0.3 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Date:
1771-circa 1879
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.
Scope and Content Note:
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 scattered letters from West, two engravings of the artist, prints, and ephemera.

Twelve letters are written to prominent politicians such as John Adams and Robert R. Livingston, Jr., the U.S. Minsister in Paris, close friend and portraitist John Green, and others. There are two pages of accounts documenting West's association with John Boydell. In 1786, Boydell, an alderman for the City of London and a publisher of books, illustrations and engravings, launched an ambitious project to commission the best artists in England, including West, to provide illustrations for an edition of Shakespeare's plays. Also found is a ticket to a lecture at the Royal Academy of Art.

Artwork includes two engravings of West, a print of his birthplace, a print of a late 18th century portrait of West by Jonathan Spilsbury, and an ink drawing after Benjamin West of John Singleton Copley's son and daughter, circa 1879.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged as one series:

Series 1: Benjamin West Collection, 1771-circa 1879 (Box 1; 5 folders)
Biographical 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.

A leader in neoclassicism and a mentor to many young English and American artists including John Constable, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and John Singleton Copley, West became the first American artist to receive international recognition. Among his best-known works are Death of General Wolfe (1770) and Penn's Treaty with the Indians (1772). In these, and other historical paintings, he maintained the compositional elements of neoclassicism but departed from tradition by painting historical figures in the clothing of their period, rather than in classical attire.

West was a co-founder of the Royal Academy of Arts with Sir Joshua Reynolds, and served as the Academy's president from 1792-1815.

Benjamin West died in London in 1820.
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.
Restrictions:
Use of original papers requires an appointment.
Rights:
The Benjamin West collection is owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Topic:
Expatriate artists -- England -- London  Search this
Painters -- United States  Search this
Citation:
Benjamin West collection, 1771-circa 1879. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
AAA.westbenj
See more items in:
Benjamin West collection
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aaa-westbenj
Online Media:

Robert Fulton letter to Robert R. Livingston, dated New York, 29 August 1807

Correspondent:
Fulton, Robert 1765-1815  Search this
Addressee:
Livingston, Robert R. 1746-1813  Search this
Former owner:
Lende, H. W. Jr. DSI  Search this
Author:
H.W. Lende, Jr. Manuscript Collection (Smithsonian Libraries) DSI  Search this
Physical description:
1 sheet, folded (3 unnumbered pages) ; 33 cm
Type:
Manuscripts
Manuscripts (documents)
Place:
Hudson River (N.Y. and N.J.)
New York (State)
Date:
1807
Topic:
River steamers  Search this
Steamboats--History  Search this
Call number:
MSS 002062 A
Restrictions & Rights:
Use by appointment with Dibner Library staff.
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1101466

Robert Fulton artist and engineer : a letter to Robert Livingston describing the first voyage of their steamboat from Albany to New York and plans for regular passenger service New York, August 29, 1807

Author:
Fulton, Robert 1765-1815  Search this
Livingston, Robert R. 1746-1813  Search this
Lende, H. W. Jr  Search this
Former owner:
Burndy Library  Search this
Subject:
Livingston, Robert R. 1746-1813  Search this
Physical description:
12 unnumbered pages : illustrations, portraits ; 28 cm
Type:
Books
Limitation statements (Publishing)
Place:
United States
Date:
2002
2002]
21st century
Topic:
Steamboats  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_782375

A biographical sketch of Robert R. Livingston. Read before the N.Y. Historical Society, October 3, 1876, by the president, Frederic De Peyster, LL. D

Author:
De Peyster, Frederic 1796-1882  Search this
New-York Historical Society  Search this
Subject:
Livingston, Robert R. 1746-1813  Search this
Physical description:
38 p. front. (port.) 29 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1876
Call number:
E302.6.L72D4X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_257366

Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of New York, 1746-1813

Author:
Dangerfield, George 1904-1986  Search this
Subject:
Livingston, Robert R. 1746-1813  Search this
Physical description:
viii, 532 p. fold. geneal. table, port. 24 cm
Type:
Books
Date:
1960
[1960]
Call number:
E302.6.L72 D3X
E302.6.L72D3X
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_17560

Bobs' folly : Fulton, Livingston and the steamboat / [by Travis M. Bowman ; edited by Tracie Rozhon and Nancy S. Leonard ; with contributions by Myra B. Young-Armstead, Gregory Moynahan and Cynthia Owen Philip]

Author:
Bowman, Travis M  Search this
Rozhon, Tracie  Search this
Leonard, Nancy S  Search this
Armstead, Myra Beth Young 1954-  Search this
Moynahan, Gregory  Search this
Philip, Cynthia Owen  Search this
Friends of Clermont  Search this
Subject:
Fulton, Robert 1765-1815  Search this
Livingston, Robert R. 1746-1813  Search this
Physical description:
95 p. : col. ill. ; 26 cm
Type:
Exhibitions
Place:
United States
Clermont State Park (N.Y.)
Date:
2008
C2008
19th century
Topic:
Steamboats--History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_987371

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