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Thomas Sully

Sully, Thomas, 1783–1872, American painter, b. England. Having come to the United States as a child, he first studied with his brother Lawrence, a miniaturist, and later for a brief time with Gilbert Stuart. During a year (1809–10) in England he came under the influence of Benjamin West and Sir Thomas Lawrence. In 1810 he settled in Philadelphia, where he quickly became the leading portrait painter. On a second trip to England he was commissioned to paint the young Queen Victoria. Known chiefly as a portraitist, Sully also painted noteworthy historical compositions, such as Washington's Passage of the Delaware (Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston). His elegant and romantic portraits are to be found in many collections. Typical of his works are Mother and Son and a sketch of Queen Victoria (both: Metropolitan Mus.) and portraits of Fanny Kemble (Pa. Acad. of the Fine Arts), Andrew Jackson (National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.), and Presidents Jefferson and Monroe (U.S. Military Acad., West Point, N.Y.). He wrote a treatise on painting, Hints to Young Portrait Painters (1873, repr. 1965).

See studies by C. H. Hart (1909) and T. Biddle and M. Fielding (1921).

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

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