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“B” is for Benbridge, Henry (1743-1812)

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“B” is for Benbridge, Henry (1743-1812). Artist. Born in Philadelphia, Benbridge was exposed to a number of distinguished artists including Benjamin West. In 1764 Benbridge traveled abroad to further his studies in London and Rome. In 1770 he earned several commissions but returned to Philadelphia. In 1773 he settled in Charleston where he achieved immediate success. His study of classic antiquity and grand tour portraiture were the bases for his quick rise. Wealthy planters and those with ties to the Atlantic world were his main patrons. When Charleston fell to the British, Benbridge was imprisoned in St. Augustine for his revolutionary fervor. He was released in 1783 and in 1784 returned to Charleston. A series of portraits of Revolutionary War heroes dates from this period. Why or when Henry Benbridge left Charleston is unknown.

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.