Born in Springfield, Pennsylvania (now Swarthmore), Benjamin West was an autodidact. From from 1746 to 1759, West worked in Pennsylvania painting portraits. In 1759, he moved to Italy where he expanded his repetoire by copying the works of Italian painters such as Titian and Raphael.
In 1763, West moved to England, where he was commissioned by King George III to create portraits of members of the royal family. In 1772, King George appointed him historical painter to the court. West became friends with the English portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds and founded the Royal Academy of Arts with Reynolds in 1768, and became its second president.
West's Death of General Wolfe (1770) ()