He was remarkably successful, a truly self-made artist, who rose from nothing to international renown. But did he ‘occasion a revolution in the art’?
Admiral Lord Nelson died in similar circumstances to General Wolfe – leading his force to victory, although here at sea in the Battle of Trafalgar. Cue for a ‘modern history painting’.
West turns to a series of more classical mythological stories for his paintings between 1792 and 1802. These include Shakespeare, the Bible, and the first novel.
Far from continuing to paint ‘modern history’, he embarked on major projects for religious paintings, some of which are superb.
In the 8 years after painting the Death of Wolfe, he attempted a few more ‘modern history’ paintings, with varying success.
The painting by which West is best known, it was claimed to have started a revolution in art, and to be the first modern history painting. Is there any truth?
From very humble beginnings in the British colonies in America, he rose to become a leading history painter, friend and painter to the King, and President of the Royal Academy. How?