National Geographic : 1951 Feb
he became its second president, serving 27 years. In historical painting West made a daring innovation with his "Death of Wolfe." Previ ously it had been the convention to represent British heroes in Roman togas and sandals, but West chose to depict them in contemporary dress. But for him Wolfe would have died on the Plains of Abraham in classic garb instead of his own scarlet uniform. West Boldly Upsets Art Fashions According to Henry Tucker man, the multitude "acknowl edged [the painting's] excel lence at once; but the lovers of old art-called classical-com plained of the barbarism of boots, buttons, and blunder busses, and cried out for naked warriors, with bows, bucklers, and battering-rams." West followed up with "Penn's Treaty," showing the founder of his native Pennsyl vania bargaining for land with the Delawares beneath the ven erable Treaty Elm. Voltaire called Penn's compact the only one "never sworn to and never broken." West must have taken delight in picturing Penn, not as a con trived Roman but as a Quaker, a man of his own faith. In Eu rope the artist loved to show off his Quaker hat. Upon being elected president of the Royal Academy, he told the members, "I shall presume in the future to wear my hat in this assem bly." In the artist's old age Lord Byron criticized him as the "do tard West, Europe's worst daub, poor England's best"; but the public supported West hand somely. One-eyed Trumbull Paints the Revolution One of West's beneficiaries was John Trumbull, to whom Americans owe so great a debt for depicting their country's history. As Trumbull never achieved much financial success, Thomas 175 Wide World Wall Street Still Looks at Trinity Church, as It Did in 1857 Compare the photographer's view with the painters' (page 196). Will the next 94 years bring as great a change? Cavernous Wall Street, financial heart of the Nation, is literally walled by skyscrapers, but it owes its name, not to these, but to the lesser wall which Gov. Peter Stuyvesant ordered built in 1653 to protect New Amsterdam's northern limit. Trinity Church, overhanging Broadway, stands on onetime farmland which Queen Anne granted to the parish in 1705. Alexander Hamilton, Robert Fulton, and Capt. James Lawrence lie in its churchyard. On its sun-warmed benches workers from shadow bound Wall Street love to relax during lunch hours.