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“Treaty of Paris” by Benjamin West

American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Agreement with Great Britain, Benjamin West

American Commissioners of the Peace Agreement with Great Britain

“American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Agreement with Great Britain,” also known as the “Treaty of Paris,” by Benjamin West, depicts the United States delegation preparing to negotiate and sign the 1783 Treaty of Paris.

The Treaty of Paris, signed in Paris by representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the United States of America in 1783, ended the American Revolutionary War.

The treaty set the boundaries between the British Empire in North America and the United States of America. Details included fishing rights and restoration of property and prisoners of war.

The unfinished oil sketch by Benjamin West depicts the United States delegation at the Treaty of Paris (left to right): John Jay, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Henry Laurens, and William Temple Franklin.

Before ending the American Revolution, the American delegation posed for the painting. The British delegation refused to pose, and the painting was never completed.

Treaty of Paris (1783)

The treaty ended the American Revolutionary War, and the separate peace treaties between Great Britain and the nations that supported the American cause—France, Spain, and the Dutch Republic—are known collectively as the Peace of Paris.

Only Article 1 of the treaty, which acknowledges the United States’ existence as free, sovereign, and independent states, remains in force.

"Treaty of Paris" by Benjamin West

Last page of the Treaty of Paris, with the American signatures

The treaty was very generous to the United States in terms of greatly enlarged boundaries. The British generosity was based on a vision of the potential close economic ties between Britain and the United States.

The concession of the vast trans-Appalachian region was designed to facilitate the growth of the American population and create lucrative markets for British merchants, without any military or administrative costs to Britain.

The United States became a significant trading partner with England. As the French foreign minister put it,

“The English buy peace rather than make it.”

Vermont was included within the boundaries because the state of New York insisted that Vermont was a part of New York. However, Vermont was then under a government that considered Vermont not to be a part of the United States.

American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Agreement with Great Britain

  • Title:                        American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace Agreement with Great Britain
  • Artist:                      Benjamin West
  • Year:                        1784
  • Medium:                 Oil and canvas
  • Dimensions:            Height: 72.3 cm (28.4 in) Edit this at Wikidata; Width: 92 cm (36.2 in)
  • Type:                       History Painting
  • Museum:                 Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library

Benjamin West

Benjamin West (1738 – 1820) was a British North American artist who painted famous historical scenes. West was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania, as the tenth child of an innkeeper and his wife.

He was entirely self-taught and went on to gain valuable patronage in the American Colonies. Later he toured Europe, eventually settling in London.

West became known for his history paintings, which used expressive figures, colors, and compositional schemes to help the spectator to identify with the scene represented.

He impressed King George III and was mostly responsible for the launch of the Royal Academy, of which he became the second president after Sir Joshua Reynolds.

He was appointed historical painter to the court and Surveyor of the King’s Pictures.

Benjamin West

History Brief: The Treaty of Paris 1783

The Treaty of Paris (1783)

A Virtual Tour of History Paintings

The 1783 Treaty of Paris

The Treaty of Paris, 1783

Treaty of Paris 1783 (American Revolutionary War)

~~~

“To recognize great talent, we must encourage dreamers.”
– Benjamin West

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Photo Credit: Benjamin West [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons; ourdocuments.gov / Public domain

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