Biography

Benjamin West, (October 10, 1738 – March 11, 1820) was a British-American artist who painted famous historical scenes such as The Death of Nelson, The Death of General Wolfe, the Treaty of Paris, and Benjamin Franklin Drawing Electricity from the Sky.

Entirely self-taught, West soon gained valuable patronage and toured Europe, eventually settling in London. He impressed King George III and was largely responsible for the launch of the Royal Academy, of which he became the second president (after Sir Joshua Reynolds). He was appointed historical painter to the court and Surveyor of the King's Pictures.

West also painted religious subjects, as in his huge work The Preservation of St Paul after a Shipwreck at Malta, at the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, and Christ Healing the Sick, presented to the National Gallery.

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