Enfilade

Study in Contrasts: Mather Brown and Benjamin West in London

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on December 20, 2009
From the Royal Academy of Arts website:

Yankees in King George’s Court: Mather Brown and Benjamin West
Burlington House (Library Print Room), London, 13 October — 24 December 2009

Thomas Park after Mather Brown, "Mr. Holman and Miss Brunton in the Characters of Romeo and Juliet," published in 1787, mezzotint. Photo: R.A./Prudence Cuming Associates Ltd. ©Royal Academy of Arts

This display of engravings and archive material drawn from the Academy’s collections contrasts the fortunes of two expatriate American artists working in Britain during the second half of the 18th century. Benjamin West (1738–1820) left Pennsylvania to travel, via Italy, to Britain, where he achieved great success. Following the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1792, he became the second President of the Royal Academy. Boston-born Mather Brown (1761–1831) arrived in London in 1781. The ambitious young artist worked in West’s studio and studied at the RA Schools, but never gained the recognition he hoped for. A series of letters in the display tells the story of the breakdown of his relationship with the Academy of which he longed to become a member. The display is timed to coincide with the conference on Trans-Atlantic Romanticism organised by University College London in association with the Royal Academy of Arts, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and the Terra Foundation for American Art.

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