Hisbits,  Inspirational Collections,  Motivational,  Thoughts

The American West

It may interest many to know that one of George III’s favorite painters, and close friend, was an American. His name was Benjamin West. A man who’s son had Benjamin Franklin for a Godfather, Franklin also being a close friend.

West was known as “The American Raphael”. He looked similar to George Washington, and ironically West was also a President, of the Royal Academy of Art. West was largely responsible for the academy’s founding through his friendship with the king.

The King appointed him as Historic Painter of to the court in 1772. In 1791 he became Surveyor of the King’s Pictures, or curator of the royal art collection. A position he held for the rest of his life.

Among was American pupils was painter and inventor Samuel Morse, one of the inventors of Morse Code. The steamboat’s inventor, also a painter, Robert Fulton was another student. Yet another student was John Trumbull, known as the Painter of the Revolution. His student, Gilbert Stuart, was the artist responsible for the portrait of George Washington on the dollar bill.

West painted several religious paintings. These included The Preservation of St Paul after a Shipwreck at Malta, at the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul in Greenwich, and Christ Healing the Sick, presented to the National Gallery. Some of which were massive works, his painting of Paul measured 25 ft by 14 ft.

He painted two versions of The Last Supper, one of which in my humble opinion, was superior to that of Leonardo Da Vinci. Chiefly because it captures Christ and Judas, and Judas rejection of The Light. The Light is on Judas’ back as he is walking away from The Lord.

Art, especially art depicting a Biblical scene, should convey at least part of the Message in the event. This painting captured the key point beautifully. Even when someone turns away from God, The Light will reach out to you gently.

It’s the reason when Judas came to betray, Jesus called him friend. The Light came to save us all from the darkness, not condemn us to it. Art, when reflecting God’s Word, must point to The Hope therein.

West believed that he had a moral duty, to present truth through his paintings. The art critic Jules David Prown said, “The history paintings that West produced after settling in England embodied the intellectual and moral values as well as the visual experience and information he had garnered in Italy.” Prown also said that Benjamin West influenced American art for over half a century.

When King George III died, West said that he had lost his best friend. Their friendship is a reminder that friendships can transcend boundaries. His art, an illustration of the responsibility to point to truth. The man, who had no formal training, a testimony that you can go as far as dreams, hard work, and dedication can take you. For the American West, it took him all the way from a Quaker family in Pennsylvania, to the king’s court.

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