Robert Walter Weir (1803-1889)
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Weir was an American artist of the Hudson River School. Weir was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1803. Weir spent some time in college but never completed his studies. Before becoming a painter, Weir worked as a mercantile clerk in New York. Weir began painting and drawing without any formal training, until leaving for Italy in 1842. In Italy, Weir was inspired by the masterpieces of Michelangelo and Raphael.
When Weir returned to New York City he became an important part of the art scene. Weir shared ideas and techniques with his fellow artists. Weir made numerous portraits and history paintings attributed to the Hudson River School.
Weir’s painting, The Embarkation of the Pilgrims, hangs in the rotunda at the United States Capitol. The piece was commissioned by the United States Congress, and is considered to be one of his best works. Another well-known piece, Peace and War belongs to the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection.
Weir became an important educator at the National Academy of Design and at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Weir was only the fifth artist to hold an instructor position at the Military Academy, and remained there for forty-two years. Weir instructed future Civil War commanders including James Abbott McNeill Whistler and Seth Eastman.
Weir’s children followed in his footsteps, becoming important American artists. One of his sons, John Ferguson Weir became a director at the Yale University Art School. His other son, Julian Alden Weir co-founded the Society of American Artists.
Robert Walter Weir’s paintings are in prestigious museums and government buildings as well as private collections. Do you think you own a painting by Weir? Contact us. We are experts on Robert Walter Weir.