Robert Walter Weir bigraphy, stories - American painter

Robert Walter Weir : biography

June 18, 1803 - May 1, 1889

Robert Walter Weir (June 18, 1803 – May 1, 1889) was an American artist, best known as an educator and as a historical painter. He is considered an artist of the Hudson River school. Weir was elected to the National Academy of Design in 1829, and an instructor at the United States Military Academy. Among his better-known works are The Embarkation of the Pilgrims (in the rotunda of the United States Capitol at Washington, D.C.) and Landing of Hendrik Hudson.


Weir was considered part of the Hudson River school of American art. One of his best known paintings is the The Embarkation of the Pilgrims, which hangs in the United States Capitol rotunda. He was commissioned by the United States Congress in 1837 and the painting was placed in the rotunda in 1844. His canvases deal principally with historical subjects. He also painted a watercolor entitled Last Communion of Henry Clay, and several portraits.

List of Weir's works

  • Paul Preaching at Athens
  • Two portraits of Sylvanus Thayer [Pappus, p. 210]
  • Embarkation of the Pilgrims at Delft Haven, Holland, July 22, 1620
  • Picnic Along the Hudson
  • Saint Nicholas (1837) (1837), in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
  • Landing of Hendrik Hudson (1842)
  • A Compositor Setting Type (ca. 1844)Untitled, Hawk-Eye (Burlington, Iowa), 13 June 1844
  • Portrait of Robert E. Lee. One of only two portraits of Lee painted before the Civil War.
  • Evening of the Crucifixion (1867)
  • Virgil and Dante crossing the Styx (1869)
  • Seascape with Lighthouse, 1869. Exhibited at Whitney Museum, New York, 1975, in exhibition entitled "Seascape and the American Imagination"
  • The Portico of the Palace of Octavia, Rome (1870)
  • Christ in the Garden (1873)
  • Our Lord in the Mount of Olives (1877)
  • Indian Falls (1878)
  • Titan in his Studio
  • Columbus before the Council of Salamanca (1884)
  • The Bourbons Last March
  • Indian Captive
  • Taking the Veil
  • The Evening of the Crucifixion
  • Portrait of Jared Mansfield
  • Portrait of General Winfield Scott
  • Portrait of Dennis Hart Mahan
  • Il Penseroso


Image:SpencerJohn.jpg|John Canfield Spencer Image:JamesMonroebyWeir.jpg|James Monroe Image:Winfield Scott - National Portrait Gallery.JPG|Winfield Scott Image:John Eaton.jpg|John Eaton

Life and career

Robert Weir was born on June 18, 1803, in New Rochelle, New York to Robert and Mary Katherine (Brinkley) Weir. Weir never graduated from college and at age 18, in 1821, left a job as a mercantile clerk to pursue painting. He studied art in New York City from 1822–24, teaching himself drawing and painting, before departing in 1824 to study in Italy.Kent Ahrens,"The Portraits of Robert Weir," American Art Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, p. 4 He remained in Florence from 1824–25, and in Rome from 1825–27, during which time he studied the works of Michelangelo, Raphael, and other Italian masters of the Renaissance. Weir returned to New York in 1827 to accompany a sick friend. He remained in New York until 1834 and became an integral part of its artist. He was then appointed as Teacher of Drawing, later Professor of Drawing, at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.Ahrens, p. 4.

Replacing the late Thomas Grimbrede, Weir was the fifth artist to hold the position of art instructor at the academy. In this post for forty-two years (1834–1876), he instructed many of the future commanders of the American Civil War. Notably, James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Seth Eastman were among his students. He died in New York City on May 1, 1889.


Weir and his wife had 16 children. One son, John Ferguson Weir (born 1841) was a painter and sculptor, and became a Member of the National Academy of Design in 1866, and was made director of the Yale University Art School in 1868. Another son, Julian Alden Weir (born 1852), studied under his father, and under J.-L. Gérôme, and became a distinguished portrait, figure and landscape painter. He was one of the founders of the Society of American Artists in 1877, and became a member of the National Academy of Design (1886) and of the Ten American Painters, New York.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine