Volltext: The life, studies and works of Benjamin West, Esq. president of The Royal Academy of London

with ideas useful to his profession. Wliile his lei- 
Sllre hours were thus proiitably employed, his re- 
putation as a portrait painter was rapidly extended. 
His youth, and the peculiar incidents of his his- 
tory, attracted m-any sitters, and his merits veri- 
fied the recommendations of his friends. This 
Qonstancy of employment, no doubt materially 
tended to his improvement in the manipulation 
of his art; for whatever may be the native force 
Of talent, it is impossible that the possessor can 
attain excellence by any other means than prac- 
tice. Facility to express the conceptions of the 
mind must be acquired before the pen or the 
pencil can embody them appropriately, and the 
author who does not execute much, however little 
he may exhibit, can never expect to dojustice to 
the truth and beauty of his own ideas. West 
Was very soon duly impressed with the justness 
of this observation; and, while in theiexecution of 
his portraits, he was assiduous to acquire a ready 
knowledge of those characteristic traits which 
havesince enabled him to throw so much variety 
into his compositions; he felt conscious that, 
without seeing better pictures than his own, he 
Could neither hope to attain distinction, nor to


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