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Benjamin West, John Galt, and the Biography of 1816

Susan Rather
The Art Bulletin
Vol. 86, No. 2 (Jun., 2004), pp. 324-345
Published by: College Art Association
DOI: 10.2307/3177420
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3177420
Page Count: 22
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Benjamin West, John Galt, and the Biography of 1816
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Abstract

Histories of American painting recognize Pennsylvanian Benjamin West as an artistic founding father, though he served as historical painter to George III, king of Great Britain and Ireland, as president of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and never lived in the independent United States. West earned that distinction through his steady mentoring of American artists, but he also created it with an authorized biography of his formative years-after a lifetime of withholding details of his youth in the American colonies and repeatedly insisting on his Englishness. This essay addresses West's motivations and those of his Scottish collaborator, John Galt.

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