American Painter, 1785-1862,is a United States artist who is best known for his portraiture. In particular, the artist is notable for the portraits he painted of Native American delegates coming to Washington D.C., which were commissioned by government's Bureau of Indian Affairs. Charles Bird King was born in Newport, Rhode Island as the only child of Deborah Bird and American Revolutionary veteran Captain Zebulon King. The family traveled west, but when King was four years old, his father was killed and scalped by Native Americans near Marietta, Ohio. King and his mother moved back to Newport to live with Bird's mother. When King was fifteen, he went to New York to study under the portrait painter Edward Savage. At age twenty he moved to London to study under the famous painter Benjamin West at the esteemed Royal Academy. King returned to the U.S. due to the War of 1812 after a seven-year stay in London, and spent time working in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Richmond. He eventually settled in Washington, due to the economic appeal that the burgeoning city offered. In the nation's new capital, the artist earned a solid reputation as a portraitist among politicians, and earned enough to maintain his own studio and gallery. King's economic success in the art world, particularly in the field of portraiture, had more to do with his ability to socialize with the wealthy celebrities, and relate to the well educated politicians of the time: His industry and simple habits enabled him to acquire a handsome competence, and his amiable and exemplary character won him many friendse . These patrons included John Quincy Adams, John Calhoun, Henry Clay, James Monroe, and Daniel Webster .
Self-portrait of Charles Bird King aged 70
Self-portrait of Charles Bird King aged 70, Oil on canvas, 44½" x 34", Redwood Library Painting Collection. Bequest of the artist, 1861.