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King Lear, ca. 1788

  • Benjamin West, American, 1738-1820

Oil on canvas

  • Unframed: 20 1/2 × 27 1/2 inches (52.1 × 69.9 cm)
  • 27 × 34 × 4 inches (68.6 × 86.4 × 10.2 cm)

Founders Society Purchase, Gibbs-Williams Fund


On View

  • American W270


American Art before 1950

Signed, lower left: B. West

Label, formerly affixed to the back of the painting: Hamilton Palace, no. 1068.

by 1838, William Beckford, Bath

his daughter Euphemia, wife of the tenth Duke of Hamilton

the twelfth Duke of Hamilton. June 17-July 20, Hamilton Palace sale, Christies, lot 1068 (London, England). dealer, H. Graves and Co. (London, England). 1909, Thomas B. Walker (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA). 1937, Harry W. Peterson. 1977, Frank Gunter (Champaign, Illinois, USA). 1977-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Public Advertiser (June 5, 1789). “A Correct Catalogue of the Works of Mr. West.” Public Characters of 1805 (1805): p. 566. “A Correct List of the Works of Mr. West.” Universal Magazine 3 (1805): p. 530. “A Correct Catalogue of the Works of Benjamin West, Esq.” La Belle Assemblee or Bell’s Court and Fashionable Magazine 4 (1808): p. 17. Galt, John. The Life and Works of Benjamin West, ESQ., President of the Royal Academy of London, Subsequent to his Arrival in the Country. London, 1820, p. 229. Lansdown, Charlotte, ed. Recollections of the Late William Beckford, of Fonthill, Wilts, and Lansdown, Bath. 1893, p. 13. Catalogue of Paintings & Sculpture Placed in the Minneapolis Public Library by Thomas B. Walker, with an Appendix Giving a List and Description of Paintings and Sculptures Presented by Others. Exh. cat., Minneapolis Public Library. Minneapolis, 1909, no. 91. Adams, R.H. The Walker Art Galleries, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Minneapolis, 1927, p. 170, no. 317. Friedman, Winifred H. Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery. New York, 1976, p. 150. Dillenberger, John. Benjamin West: The Context of his Life’s Work with Particular Attention to Paintings with Religious Subject Matter. San Antonio, 1977, p. 174. Cinco Siglos de Obras Maestras de la Peintura en Colecciones Norteamericanas Cedidas en Prestamo a Costa Rica. Exh. cat., Museo de Jade. San Jose, Costa Rica, 1978, pp. 28-29, no. 2 (ill.). Bulletin of the DIA 56, 5 (1978): p. 263, no. 4 (ill.). Sund, Judy. “Benjamin West: A Scene from King Lear.” Bulletin of the DIA 58, 3 (1980): pp. 127-136 (ill.). Von Erffa, Helmut and Allen Staley. Benjamin West. New Haven, CT, 1986, p. 273, no. 211 (ill.). Black, Mary, et al. American Paintings in the Detroit Institute of Arts, Volume One: Works by Artists Born Before 1816. New York, 1991, pp. 234-237, no. 108.

Benjamin West, King Lear, ca. 1788, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Gibbs-Williams Fund, 77.58.