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Benjamin West, 1738–1820

Gentlemen Fishing

Former Title(s):

The Fishing Party - a Party of Gentlemen fishing from a Punt

Oil on slate
12 1/8 x 17 inches (30.8 x 43.2 cm)

Signed and dated in white paint, lower left: "B. West | 1794"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
boat | fishing | fishing line | genre subject | men | recreation | river | water | wind
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

The gentlemen are fishing on Dagenham Breach, a lake formed by a breach in the river-wall on the north bank of the Thames a few miles below Greenwich; the shipping in the background on the left is river traffic. According to an account of the painting by Benjamin West's sons, the party includes the artist himself and his friend Sir Hugh Palliser, governor of Greenwich Hospital. The faces are not rendered in detail, but West is probably identifiable as the man in shirtsleeves elegantly handing a fish to a servant, and Palliser as the older man seated on the far left of the group. In its everyday subject the work was unusual for West, who painted largely in a grand, classical idiom. When it was shown at the Royal Academy, a critic remarked that it showed more talent in a few square inches "than is to be found in as many acres of his painted statues!"

Malcolm Warner

Warner, Malcolm and John Baskett. The Paul Mellon Bequest: Treasures of a Lifetime. New Haven : Yale Center for British Art, 2001, p. 55

The Paul Mellon Bequest : Treasures of a Lifetime (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-02-17 - 2001-04-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Robert C. Alberts, Benjamin West : A Biography, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 1978, p. 221, NJ18 W52 A6 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Helmut von Erffa, The Paintings of Benjamin West, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1986, pp. 417, 422, 425, no. 446, NJ18 W52 A12 +E73 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Warner, The Paul Mellon Bequest : treasures of a lifetime, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 55, N5247 M385 P28 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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