Oil on canvas. Penn Medicine, Pennsylvania Hospital Historic Collections, Philadelphia, PA.
West’s original version of this painting had been intended to fulfill a request for a painting from the Board of Managers of Pennsylvania Hospital.
The works of an artist which ornament the palace of his King cannot fail to honor him in his native land, they assured him. On its completion in 1811 it was exhibited in London to immense crowds, and was subsequently purchased by the British Institution for 3,000 guineas — the largest sum ever paid for a modern work.
So West painted another, completed it in 1815, with
a more improved plan of composition. It arrived in 1817 with the following note:
Benjamin West, Historical Painter to His Majesty George III, and the President of the Royal Academy of Arts in London, feels the highest satisfaction in informing the Managers of the Pennsylvania Hospital by having finished the picture of our Savior receiving the Lame and Blind in the Temple to heal them. And Mr. West bequeaths the said picture to the Hospital in the joint names of himself and his wife, the late Elizabeth West, as their gratuitous offering and as a humble record of their patriotic affection for the State of Pennsylvania, in which they first inhaled the vital air — thus to perpetuate in her native city of Philadelphia the sacred memory of that amiable lady who was his companion in life for fifty years and three months.