Tag Archives: Royal Academy

Benjamin West – The American Raphael

Benjamin West (1738-1820) was an American born painter who found great success in Europe. During his career he became known for elevating historical art practices in Britain. He also co-founded the Royal Academy and served as president following Sir Joshua Reynolds. In everything he did, West exuded confidence in himself and his abilities. As a result, his art was noticed by all.

Attention was given to Benjamin West long before he became known as “The American Raphael.” West was born in Pennsylvania in 1738, nearly thirty years prior to America claiming its independence from Great Britain. At a young age, he showed great artistic talent and an eagerness to learn how to produce great artwork. In fact, it was believed that West learned how to create paint by watching native Indians mix clay and bear grease together in pots.

After acknowledging his strengths, Benjamin West’s parents and the Quaker community in which they lived gave him permission to travel to Philadelphia and New York where he would study art. However, these emerging art hubs did not keep the skilled artist’s attention for long. In 1760, the painter went to study abroad in Italy on a trip sponsored by William Allen, the wealthiest man in Philadelphia at the time. Upon leaving Italy, West moved to England where he would grow into a great artist and teacher.

West did not spend much time in London before he painted Cymon and Iphigenia which exhibited in 1764 at Spring Gardens. Also, he was quickly commissioned to create portraits for Bishop of Bristol and Bishop of Worcester, as well as the Archbishop of York, Robert Hay Drummond. In 1766, he designed an altarpiece for a church in London, St. Stephen Walbrook. And he also painted Orestes and Pylades and The Continence of Scipio. His portrayal of classical subjects was very well received.

By 1970, Benjamin West was making a big splash among art enthusiasts including King George III with two paintings: The Oath of Hannibal and The Departure of Regulus. These depictions of ancient history proved that the American artist mastered “the style of history painting the French had perfected,” according to Loyd Grossman, a Fellow at the Society of Antiquaries.

Then, in 1771, Benjamin West showcased The Death of General Wolfe at the Royal Academy. West could not have known the painting would become one of the greatest art achievements in the 18th century. West’s refined approach to historical art did not show subjects in Greek and Roman dress, nor did he show them in shabby clothing. All subjects were glorified in West’s paintings; they were made to look pristine. According to Senior Curator at the Royal Academy, Helen Valentine, this was the “grand style” Benjamin West used and taught. He applied his grand style often, making the scenes he painted appear idyllic. He used the style as a tool for inspiration and created high art by deliberately perfecting nature which he felt would elevate himself and society.

The following year, West was paid an annual salary of 1,000 pounds to serve as the historical painter to King George III. Sometime later, after the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, West was royally appointed to the role of president of the Royal Academy. West only took one year off from the Royal Academy between entering office in 1792 and his death in 1820.

In that time, and throughout his career, West influenced many artists in Britain and America. As he painted, he taught others the intricacies of his style and elevated the practice of painting historical art. Looking beyond his influence, one truth remained constant: Benjamin West was Britain’s “American Raphael.” To this day his art is showcased and his talent is noticed.

However, this post is meant to recognize his artist style and some major pieces. For those who want to read more of West ‘s story, visit this link: http://www.segmation.com/products_pc_patternset_contents.asp?set=BWT . Also, Segmation is proud to offer 27 digital West patterns. By downloading these paint by numbers masterpieces, you can emulate one of the most fascinating artists who ever lived.

Enjoy the 26 Benjamin West – The American Raphael. Segmation has for you and continue to learn and celebrate the life of a great artist.

Read more Segmation blog posts about other great artists:
Jan Gossaert – A Great Flemish Painter of Antiquity”

Joaquín Sorolla – The World-Renowned Spanish Painter

Robert Delaunay, Blazing a Colorful Trail

Sources:

Benjamin West Web Museum Paris

Benjamin West Royal Academy of Arts

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Albert Bierstadt: Painter of the American West

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On January 7, 1830, Albert Bierstadt was born in Solingen, Germany. Just one year later, his family moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts. It was here that he began to take an interest in art. This was made apparent by the “clever crayon sketches” he would create as a young child.

When Bierstadt was about 21 years old, he tried his hand at oil painting and found that he wanted to pursue art. In 1853 he traveled back to Germany , this time to Dusseldorf, to study art with distinguished painters Andreas Aschenbach and Karl Friedman Lessing at the Royal Academy. Bierstadt remained in Dusseldorf, polishing his skills and expanding his artistic abilities until 1857.

Returning to America in 1857, Bierstadt taught art for a short season. Soon after, in 1859, his life took an exciting turn of events when he had the opportunity to travel westward with an overland survey expedition.

The young artist took advantage of his time in the west by taking many photographs of the landscape as well as sketching plenty of drawings. The sketches would serve as skeletons of paintings that Bierstadt would create in the future. The American west remained his muse throughout his life, and he traveled there frequently.

Albert Bierstadt’s paintings of the American West were popular and sold for high sums of money. Still, the artist didn’t seem to impress the art critics of his time. His unpopularity in the art world might have been attributed to the large canvases he painted on, which were considered to be an “egotistical indulgence.” Also, the way he used light in his paintings was thought to be “excessive,” as was the romanticism of his subject matter.

Regardless of art critics’ lack of acceptance of him, Albert Bierstadt’s art remained sought-out by the public as his career grew. He became a member of the National Academy in 1860 and was a medal winner in Germany, Belgium, Bavaria, and Austria. He secured a studio in New York City, which he kept from 1861 to 1879. In 1862 Bierstadt continued to build his artistic success by becoming a member of the Century Association.

Bierstadt’s art often featured the landscapes he had seen in his travels across the American west. The painted landscapes, though rugged, were bathed in extravagant light, giving them a romantic feel. The artist paid great attention to detail and adorned his paintings with “mist, fog, and clouds” to create the effects he desired. Bierstadt used colors in an exaggerated way so as to make his paintings more ideal than realistic. Art collectors were (and are) strongly drawn to this type of work.

Albert Bierstadt didn’t paint landscapes of the American west exclusively. His works also feature international locations. Yosemite Park (Oakland, California), Staubbauch Falls (close to Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland), Mount Corcoran, Lake Lucerne (Switzerland), the Bernese Alps, the Wolf River (Kansas), and the Oregon Trail are all specific locations that were captured in Bierstadt’s paintings.

Throughout his career, Bierstadt exhibited his artwork at the Boston Athenaeum (1859-1864), the Boston Art Club (1873-1880), and the Brooklyn Art Association (1861-1879). Some of his works are currently housed at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts as well as other prestigious museums.

On February 18, 1902, Albert Bierstadt died in New York City. He is buried alongside his parents in New Bedford’s Rural Cemetery.

German-American painter Albert Bierstadt made a success of his life. He died having created between 500 and 4,000 paintings. To this day, Bierstadt’s art is in demand. His original paintings are sporadically made available for purchase, and the prices at which they sell continue to climb. Commercial prints of his work are most common. In capturing the heart of the American west, Albert Bierstadt also captured the hearts of the American people, which brought him great success in his artistic career.

In your opinion, what artists changed culture and society in significant ways? Who is your personal hero of the art world? We’d love to hear from you, so feel free to share your thoughts in the “comments” section below.

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Bierstadt

http://www.askart.com/

http://www.albertbierstadt.org/

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