AMERICAN PAINTING.

FIG. 102.—WEST. PETER DENYING CHRIST. HAMPTON CT.FIG. 102.—WEST. PETER DENYING CHRIST. HAMPTON CT.

THE EARLY PAINTERS: The "limner," or the man who could draw and color a portrait, seems to have existed very early in American history. Smibert (1684-1751), a Scotch painter, who settled in Boston, and Watson (1685?-1768), another Scotchman, who settled in New Jersey, were of this class—men capable of giving a likeness, but little more. They were followed by English painters of even less consequence. Then came Copley (1737-1815) and West (1738-1820), with whom painting in America really began. They were good men for their time, but it must be borne in mind that the times for art were not at all favorable. West was a man about whom all the infant prodigy tales have been told, but he never grew to be a great artist. He was ambitious beyond his power, indulged in theatrical composition, was hot in color, and never was at ease in handling the brush. Most of his life was passed in England, where he had a vogue, was elected President of the Royal Academy, and became practically a British painter. Copley was more of an American than West, and more of a painter. Some of his portraits are exceptionally fine, and his figure pieces, like Charles I. demanding the Five Members of House of Commons are excellent in color and composition. C. W. Peale (1741-1827), a pupil of both Copley and West, was perhaps more fortunate in having celebrated characters like Washington for sitters than in his art. Trumbull (1756-1843) preserved on canvas the Revolutionary history of America and, all told, did it very well. Some of his compositions, portraits, and miniature heads in the Yale Art School at New Haven are drawn and painted in a masterful manner and are as valuable for their art as for the incidents which they portray.

FIG. 103.—GILBERT STUART. WASHINGTON (UNFINISHED). BOSTON MUS.
FIG. 103.—GILBERT STUART. WASHINGTON (UNFINISHED). BOSTON MUS.

Gilbert Stuart (1755-1828) was the best portrait-painter of all the early men, and his work holds very high rank even in the schools of to-day. He was one of the first in American art-history to show skilful accuracy of the brush, a good knowledge of color, and some artistic sense of dignity and carriage in the sitter. He was not always a good draughtsman, and he had a manner of laying on pure colors without blending them that sometimes produced sharpness in modelling; but as a general rule he painted a portrait with force and with truth. He was a pupil of Alexander, a Scotchman, and afterward an assistant to West. He settled in Boston, and during his life painted most of the great men of his time, including Washington.