(engraving after an oil painting by Benjamin West)
Paul Mellon Collection
Yale Center for British Art.
Published in 1815, the Historical view of the Commission for Enquiring into the Losses, Services and Claims of the American Loyalists at the close of the war between Great Britain and her colonies in 1783, contained Moses’ engraving of Benjamin West’s allegorical painting. West, a famous American artist, permanently moved to Great Britain in 1763 after completing a three year tour of Italy. Not directly involved in the American Revolutionary War, West nevertheless had friends, family, and colleagues affected by the outcome of the conflict. His allegorical painting on the Reception of the American Loyalists in Great Britain portrays Religion and Justice, both female figures, holding Britannia’s mantle. Britannia extends her arm and shield to receive the Loyalists. A Native American chief stretches his hand up to Britannia, while behind him women and their orphaned children seek succor for the losses that they have endured. West also included several Black Loyalists, who smile on Britannia gratefully for their emancipation. West’s original oil painting has been lost; however, a smaller copy of the painting can be seen in the background of West’s portrait of John Eardley Wilmot, the chief commissioner of the Loyalist Claims Commission.