One such history painter was the American-born, Benjamin West. West lived from 1738-1820 and though he began his art education in Philadelphia he studied mostly abroad, in Italy and England where he lived most of his life. West didn't forget his American roots however. Though a founder of the Royal Academy, his studio in London was a haven for Colonial artists studying there. His friendship and encouragement benefited American artists such as Gilbert Stuart and John Singleton Copley, among others, who studied at what was in effect, an "American Academy"
West's most famous history painting was the Death of General Wolfe painted in 1770. By history painting standards, the work is not all that large, measuring some 5' x 7'. It depicts a scene from the French an Indian War and is formal, yet stark, noble, yet human. Even while the painting was still a "work in progress", King George III let it be known he would not purchase a painting wherein British heroes were depicted in modern dress. No less than the godlike Sir Joshua Reynolds, then president of the Royal Academy, tried to prevail upon West not to continue such an "aberration of taste". Undaunted, West continued work on it. When it was displayed at the 1770 Salon, it was met with great critical acclaim. Reynolds apologized for his "error of judgment" and in effect, so did the king. He ordered a copy for the royal collection, inasmuch as the original had quickly sold. In fact, West actually painted FOUR replicas of the original. Added to that, he collected royalties form hundreds of engravings based upon the painting. It wasn't the "evening news" perhaps, but the pay was good.