American Hudson River School Painter, 1803-1889,Painter and teacher. By his own account he was self-taught, with the exception of a few lessons from an unknown heraldic painter named Robert Cooke. However, after exhibiting a few works that were praised by the local press, he was sent to Italy by a group of New York and Philadelphia businessmen for further studies. There he trained with Florentine history painter Pietro Benvenuti. After three years in Europe (1824-7), he returned to New York, where he quickly became a mainstay of the artistic community. In 1831 he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Design in New York, and three years later he was made instructor of drawing at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York, a post he held for the next 42 years. Most scholars agree that he was more important as a teacher than as a painter. His best known work is the Embarkation of the Pilgrims (1837-43), which hangs in the Rotunda of the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.