Benjamin West was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania. He received some training, probably from John Valentine Haidt, before travelling to Italy in 1760. Whilst there, West met German painter and art critic Anton Raphael Mengs and Scottish history painter Gavin Hamilton. In 1763, he settled in London and exhibited mainly historical subjects, which were well received. In 1772, he became historical painter to King George III and, in 1791, surveyor of the King's pictures - a lucrative position. A founding member of the Royal Academy, West exhibited there from 1769 to 1819 and succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as President. As well as painting history subjects, he also painted portraits and landscapes and designed stained-glass.
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