Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born in Springfield, Pennsylvania (now Swarthmore), Benjamin West was an autodidact. From 1746 to 1759, West worked in Pennsylvania painting portraits. In 1759, he moved to Italy where he expanded his repertoire by copying the works of Italian painters such as Titian and Raphael.
In 1763, West moved to England, where he was commissioned by King George III to create portraits of members of the royal family. In 1772, King George appointed him historical painter to the court. West became friends with the English portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds and founded the Royal Academy of Arts with Reynolds in 1768. He was the second president of the Royal Academy from 1792 to 1805. He was re-elected in 1806 and was president until his death in 1820.
West is known for his large scale history paintings, which use expressive figures, colours and compositional schemes to help the spectator to identify with the scene represented. West called this "epic representation ".
He died in London.
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