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portraiture

American Portraiture

In the United States during the 18th cent. the painters John Singleton Copley, Benjamin West, Charles Willson Peale, and Gilbert Stuart all modeled their styles on the prevailing English fashion. Copley, however, brought an illuminating understanding to the depiction of his sitters that clearly owed nothing to English influence.

By the 19th cent. portraiture had become the specialty of numerous American artists including John Trumbull, Thomas Sully, and the sculptors Horace Greenough, Thomas Crawford, and Hiram Powers. Later celebrated portraitists included Frank Duveneck and the expatriates Whistler, Sargent, and Cassatt. But it was Thomas Eakins who regained for the 19th cent. Copley's sensitivity, revealed in both his paintings and his photographs. Twentieth-century masters of portraiture include Robert Henri and Andrew Wyeth, who continues the Copley-Eakins tradition.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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