Benjamin West’s 'Milkmaids in St James's Park, Westminster Abbey Beyond' has been described as an unusual pastoral landscape by the artist showcasing his versatility. Lars Kokkonen's lecture will situate the painting within the context of West’s oeuvre and examine particularly the artist’s life and work at the time of its creation. It also will consider the ultimate fate of the St James's Park "Milk Fair" in light of West's depiction of everyday life in early nineteenth-century London.
In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the restoration of the State Rooms at Spencer House, Benjamin West’s 'Milkmaids in St James's Park, Westminster Abbey Beyond' (ca. 1801, oil on panel, Paul Mellon Fund), is on special loan from the Yale Center for British Art.
The exhibition unites Yale’s recent acquisition with three large history paintings by West, commissioned by George III, on loan to Spencer House from Her Majesty the Queen. Displayed in the Dining Room is West’s famous 'Death of Wolfe' (1771) and its Renaissance and classical parallels 'The Death of Chevalier Bayard' (1772) and 'The Death of Epaminondas' (1773). In addition visitors will be able to see two further West paintings from The Royal Collection, shown in Lady Spencer’s Room, 'The Family of the King of Armenia before Cyrus' (1773) and 'The Wife of Arminius Brought Captive to Germanicus' (1773).