It was hard to be an artist in America during the colonial period, and for decades after. There were no real art schools, no grand tradition of painting or sculpture, and no wealthy aristocratic patrons to commission heroic subjects. Americans were practical, and they wanted portraits (a reality that frustrated ambitious American artists). Nevertheless, Americans looked to England for support and inspiration. As you’ll learn in this tutorial, Copley was the greatest American portrait painter of the period, and Peale, who studied with Copley, painted portraits of American heroes such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin.