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Benjamin West, American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Negotiations with Great Britain, 1783, oil on canvas, Winterthur Museum, gift of Henry Francis du Pont

Colonial Cousins: How Benjamin West and John Singleton Copley Took London by Storm

Saturday, Jan 18, 2014
4 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Law Building, Lower Level
1001 Bissonnet Map & Directions

Presented by Emily Ballew Neff, PhD, Wylodean and Bill Saxon Director and chief curator, The Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma, and organizing curator of the exhibition American Adversaries: West and Copley in a Transatlantic World.

Long before Jackson Pollock and his fellow Abstract Expressionists drew international acclaim for their innovative paintings in the mid-20th century, colonial Americans Benjamin West (1738–1820) and John Singleton Copley (1738–1815) held center stage in London’s art world in the latter part of the 18th century. How did two colonial artists on the margins of the British Empire capture the imagination of the art-viewing public at the time? And what made West and Copley powerful drivers of artistic change?

In this lecture, Emily Ballew Neff explores the seminal role West and Copley played in redefining the long-established genre of history painting in contemporary terms, and why their paintings still resonate with meaning to the present day. Questions about the content of this lecture? E-mail

About the Friday and Saturday Afternoon Lecture Series
This series of lectures is held on Fridays at 1:30 p.m. with a repeat on Saturdays at 4 p.m. in Brown Auditorium Theater. A reception to meet the speaker and a “Your Turn to Speak” tour follow each lecture.

$5 MFAH Members
$8 Nonmembers + Museum admission
Free for Members at the Patron, Supporting, Sponsor, and Benefactor levels, up to two tickets. Leadership Circle members receive unlimited free tickets.
Secure your seat in advance! Use the "Get Tickets" button above and print at home; call 713.639.7771; or visit any MFAH admissions desk.

Friday and Saturday Afternoon Lectures at the MFAH receive generous support from Aggie and Joe Foster.

Special thanks to Adept Word Management for transcription services.

All education programs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, receive endowment income from funds provided by Caroline Wiess Law; The National Endowment for the Humanities; the William Randolph Hearst Foundation; the Fondren Foundation; BMC Software, Inc.; the Wallace Foundation; the Louise Jarrett Moran Bequest; the Neal Myers and Ken Black Children’s Art Fund; the Favrot Fund; and Gifts in honor of Beth Schneider.