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 William D. Winstanley  (1775 - 1806)

About: William D. Winstanley
 

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Lived/Active: New York / United Kingdom      Known for: landscape, portrait, panorama

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
William Winstanley was one of the earliest landscape painters in America and was active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. With conventional training in England, he was described as painting the landscape with "sterile recipes" as though it was the English countryside. (Flexner 118)

Sometime before April 1793, Winstanley came to America from England when he was a youth and is known to have sold two Hudson River paintings to George Washington, then President. These works are titled "Morning, Hudson River," and "Evening, Hudson River" and are in the collection of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association, Virginia. He visited Washington DC and painted scenes of the Potomac River, which were also purchased by the President.

He also painted romantic landscapes titled "Genesee Falls, New York,"(1792) and "Grotto Scene by Moonlight" (1793) and they are in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

From 1795 to 1799, Winstanley was based in New York City, and he exhibited panoramic views of London and and Charleston, South Carolina. He also took up portrait painting and did a copy of a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington. A portrait by Winstanley now in the White House is thought to be one of these copies. A circumstance relative to the Stuart portrait led to Winstanley being labelled a "swindling genius" by William Dunlap (1766-1839). Reportedly when Winstanley was asked to return the Stuart portrait that he had been copying, he shipped his own copy instead of the original.

Winstanley published a play, "The Hypocrite Unmask't," in 1801, and that year has the last record, a Boston newspaper notice, of him being in America. Nothing is known of his later career except that he returned to London, where he exhibited landscapes at the British Institution in 1806.

From:
Matthew Baigell, "Dictionary of American Artists"
Peter Falk, "Who Was Who in American Art"
James Flexner, "Light of Distant Skies"
John Howat, "The Hudson River and Its Painters"

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