(b. 1775, Kingston, d. 1852, Kingston)


American painter. The grandson of Pieter Vanderlyn (1687-1778), a portrait painter active in the Hudson River Valley, he manifested an early talent for penmanship and drawing. During his late youth he moved to New York, where he worked in a frame shop and studied in Archibald Robertson's drawing academy. His copy of a portrait by Gilbert Stuart brought him to the attention of that artist, with whom he then worked in Philadelphia.

He spent much of his career in Paris (he also visited Rome), and his style was nearer to the mainstream of European Neoclassicism and Romanticism than that of almost any other American painter of his generation. His best-known painting is Ariadne Asleep on Naxos (Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, 1814), a reclining figure in the tradition of the Venuses of Giorgione and Titian that is regarded as the finest American nude before Eakins. Although such works won him considerable renown in France, he was much less successful in America, where he worked mainly as a portraitist, and he became embittered in his final years.

His ambitious historical compositions found no market, and his admirable portraits were so slowly executed that few had the patience to pose for him. Late in life he was commissioned to paint the Landing of Columbus (Capitol, Washington), but was obliged to employ assistants to execute it. He died impoverished and embittered. A self-portrait is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. The Senate House Museum, Kingston, N.Y., has numerous paintings attributed to Vanderlyn.

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