Born in Boston, Paul Revere was the third of twelve children. While still in grammar school he was taught silversmithing by his father. By 1765 he had learned engraving and made copper plate engravings and designs for seals, coats-of-arms, certificates, and bookplates. His artistic accomplishments also included carving picture frames for several portraits painted by John Singleton Copley.
In addition to his pursuits as an artisan, Revere was an avid patriot. His drawing skills were essential to his work as an engraver, but he also drew political cartoons. A member of an active political club in Boston, he was acquainted with other Revolutionary leaders such as Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Revere participated in the Boston Tea Party but is best remembered for his famous horse ride to Lexington, Massachusetts, on 18 April 1775, to warn of the advancing British troops.
Revere did not actually serve in the military. Since Boston was occupied by the British in 1775-1776, he stayed in nearby Watertown with the local colonial government. During this time Revere's role was to design and print the first issue of the continental currency. He also made gunpowder and set up a munitions factory for the benefit of the colonial army.
Following the Revolutionary War, Revere resumed his career as a silversmith, producing elegant examples of his craft. His foundry was involved in the production of varied items from cannons to bells, as well as construction materials for the battleship Old Ironsides.
[This is an excerpt from the interactive companion to the videodisc American Art from the National Gallery of Art.]