Portrait, miniature, and figure painter Thomas Sully was born in 1783 in Horncastle, Lincolnshire, England, the son of professional actors. He came to America with his parents in 1792, and the family eventually settled in Charleston, South Carolina. Sully’s first occupation was as a clerk in the office of an insurance broker. He received his first art lessons from his brother Lawrence and his brother-in-law Jean Belzons, both painters of miniatures. He also learned from the works of Benjamin West, Charles Willson Peale, Gilbert Stuart, and John Trumbull. In 1801 he began his career as a portrait painter in Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia. When his brother Lawrence died in 1804, Thomas took responsibility for the support of his widow and three children. In 1805 he married his brother’s widow and moved with his new family to New York City. They later moved to Hartford, Connecticut, and Boston, Massachusetts, before settling in Philadelphia. In 1807 Sully visited Gilbert Stuart in his Boston studio to obtain advice about his painting. Sully became a U.S. citizen in 1809, but promptly left for a year of study in London with Benjamin West. Back in Philadelphia, Sully set up a new studio and immediately set to work on a steady flow of portrait commissions, becoming the leading portrait painter in Philadelphia from 1810 until his death. He also occasionally traveled to paint in Baltimore, Boston, Washington, Charleston, Providence, and Richmond. He portrayed many of the most famous people of his day. In 1837 Sully, accompanied by his twenty-three year old daughter Blanch, traveled to England where in 1838 he made sketches for a portrait of the young Queen Victoria that had been commissioned by the Philadelphia chapter of the Society of the Sons of Saint George. Blanch substituted for the Queen in many of the sittings, and even wore the British crown, the only American ever to have this distinction. She also modeled the Queen’s new state robes. The Queen approved Sully’s likeness, and the artist completed the full-length portrait upon his return to Philadelphia. The Society exhibited the portrait in New York, Boston, Montreal, Quebec, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. It was sent to London in 1887 for the exhibition commemorating Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. The artist made additional versions of the portrait as well. Over the course of his career, Sully executed over two thousand portraits. He painted about six hundred genre and thematic works as well. Sully’s work is among collections at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Boston Museum of Fine Arts; the National Museum of American Art; the National Portrait Gallery; and Yale University.