Artworks
The Ascension
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wbillingsley's picture

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It's ironic that this is a picture of Jesus, as it was painted by All American Judas. 

Benjamin West was one of the first Americans to emigrate out of the United States. In his early twenties, West went to Italy to study the great masters who he desired to emulate. Now there is nothing inherently wrong with that, the problem was that instead of coming home and using his skills for his homeland, like for example Gilbert Stuart, he went to work for King George III. Remember that King George was the British ruler from whom the United States won their freedom in 1776. This would be like if Kanye West flew over to the middle east and started singing for Al Qaeda. However, Benjamin West went even farther than that. Not only did he work on a slew of paintings for King George, but he also became the President of the Royal Art Academy, and helped the British Empire established itself artistically across the world. 

It would seem, though, that this treachery would not satiate the man. In 1802, during a brief one year peace between the British and French, West leveraged his political connections in order to go to Paris and see the Napoleon's artistic collections in the Louvre. So while England was struggling through some brutal diplomacy with their life-long enemy, West was acting as a party guest to the French heads of state. Regardless of this chronic treason, West was treasured by all the 3 countries he stayed in. He inspired other American painters, as well as educating some that would go on to be rather famous like Washington Allston and Thomas Sully. All the while he retained his reputation with his European masters, this being evident in the fact that he was commissioned to paint Benjamin Franklin pulling lightning from the sky, while simultaneously creating works like the one above over the course of his twenty year long employment under King George.

Sources

Sources

  1. Galt, John “The Life, Studies, and Works of Benjamin West, Esq” London 1820 pg 179 https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=fUtJAQAAMAAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR1&d... west&ots=Tubgo1eYof&sig=bqqYfkOsVrzxq3thWSMZuyOVvvs#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. Grossman, Lloyd “Benjamin West for the Royal Academy of Arts” Youtube 12/18/12 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlnVoPn1lM4
  3. Web Contributor “Benjamin West” National Gallery of Art, viewed on 09/26/2019 https://www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.1970.html