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Benjamin West, 1738–1820

Design for a Wall of the Chapel of Revealed Religion

Additional Title(s):

Design for Revealed Religon for the redecoration of the King's Chapel, Windsor Castle…

ca. 1780
Watercolor with pen in gray and black ink on medium, moderately textured, cream laid paper
Sheet: 11 1/2 × 18 1/2 inches (29.2 × 47 cm), Mount: 15 1/4 x 22 1/4 inches (38.7 x 56.5 cm)

Inscribed in artist's hand in black ink ower left: "scale in feet"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
allegorical | architectural subject | design | figures | plans | religious
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IIIF Manifest:

Benjamin West, the American-born history painter and future President of the Royal Academy, first attracted the attention of King George III with his 1768 canvas Agrippina Landing at Brundisium with the Ashes of Germanics (Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven). After a decade of steady patronage, in 1780 the king commissioned that West called "the great work of my life," The Chapel of Revealed Religion for Windsor Castle. Numerous questions still remain about the program and the intended location of this important and sadly incomplete project which the king stopped funding for in 1801 for reasons that remain unclear. West continued working at his own expense until 1804. The chapel's decorative scheme, approved by Anglican theologians, was to depict revelatory moments from the Old and the New Testaments: Patriarchal, Mosaical, and Gospel. This drawing depicts West's scheme for the north wall of the chapel, one of the earliest planned. The king's architect Sir William Chambers (see cats. 117-18) drew in the architectural background, and West added his plans for Gospel scenes in the large panels, centered around the Ascension of Christ. He places scenes from the Old Testament above, which figures from the Old Testament, such as King David with his lyre, rest atop the pilasters. Below them, caryatids display shields depicting emblems of Christianity. Highly finished designs such as this one functioned as working drawings that West could then use to present his ideas to the king. West also executed oil studies for the chapel, and he exhibited completed canvases at the Royal Academy. The Ascension based on the central scene in the drawing, wss shown there in 1781, labeled "For his Majesty's Chapel at Windsor."

Morna O'Neill

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 178 cat. no. 151

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Crown Pictorial - Art and the British Monarchy (Yale Center for British Art, 1990-12-05 - 1991-02-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Revealed Religion - Benjamin West's Commissions for Windsor Castle and Fonthill Abbey (San Antonio Museum of Art, 1983-09-18 - 1983-11-13) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Benjamin West and his American Students (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1981-01-30 - 1981-04-19) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Benjamin West and his American Students (National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian, 1980-10-06 - 1981-04-19) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Robert C. Alberts, Benjamin West : A Biography, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1978, pp. 158-60, p. 2 in unnumered plate section between pp. 270 and 271, NJ18 W52 A6 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's sale catalogue : Fine English drawings and watercolours : 14 March 1967, Christie's, March 14, 1967, p. 11, lot 43, Auction Catalogues (YCBA)

Linda Colley, Crown Pictorial : Art and the British Monarchy : Exhibition Labels, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1990, pp. 37-38, no. 86, N8219 K5 C761 1990 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Linda Colley, Crown Pictorial : Art and the British Monarchy, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1990, p. 34, no.85, N8219 K5 C76 1990 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Terry Friedman, The Eighteenth-Century Church in Britain, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 2011, pp. 122-23, fig. 96, NA5466 F76 2011 + Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Andrew Hemingway, Transatlantic Romanticism : British and American art and literature, 1790/1860, University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst and Boston, 2015, pp. 107, 109 and color plate, color pl. 7, NX452.5.R64 T73 2015 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Elizabeth Jacklin, A Rubensian drawing for a lost painting, Benjamin West's study for Pharaoh and His Host Lost in the Red Sea , British Art Journal, Vol. 14, Autumn, 2013, pp. 40-43, pls. . 2 and 3, N6761 B74 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ruth S. Kraemer, Drawings by Benjamin West and His Son, Raphael Lamar West, Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 1975, p. 18, fig. 13, NJ18 W52 +K73 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Nancy L. Pressly, Revealed religion : Benjamin West's commissions for Windsor Castle and Fonthill Abbey, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, 1983, p. 38, no. 2, NJ18 W.52 P.74 (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Spadafora, The idea of progress in eighteenth-century Britain, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1990, p. 89, HN385 .S676 1990 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Helmut von Erffa, The Paintings of Benjamin West, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1986, pp. 386-7, NJ18 W52 A12 +E73 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 178, no. 151, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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