Skip to Main Content

Benjamin Greenleaf

American, 1769 - 1821

Related Content

  • Sort by:
  • Results layout:
Show  results per page


Benjamin Greenleaf the painter was once thought to be identical to Benjamin Greenleaf (1786-1805) the prominent American educator. In 1981, however, the artist was revealed to be a different individual, born in Hull, Massachusetts, 13 Janaury 1769.

His known works range in date from 1803 to 1818. During this period he worked in Massachusetts (Weymouth, Hingham, Braintree, and Newton, 1803-1812; Weymouth again, 1815; Boston area, 1817), New Hampshire (Hopkinton, Hanover, 1813) and Maine (Bath, Paris, Portland, 1816; Bath, Bridgton, Phippsburg, 1817-1818). He painted the members of many families that were related through intermarriage, and seems to have relied on word-of-mouth, rather than newspaper or other advertising, to obtain commissions. To date there are fifty-six known works by Greenleaf, the majority of them reverse paintings on glass, painted in the profile format.

Greenleaf's works are characterized by attractively subtle colors, well-proportioned features, and physiognomic accuracy. Although the artist has become more widely known through recent articles, he almost certainly would be even better recognized if his paintings, many undoubtedly destroyed, had been executed on a support less fragile than glass.

Greenleaf died in Weymouth on 10 January 1821. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]

Artist Bibliography

Kern, Arthur B., and Sybil B. Kern. "Who Was Benjamin Greenleaf?" Antiques World 3 (September 1981): 38-47.
Kern, Arthur B., and Sybil B. Kern. "Benjamin Greenleaf: Nineteenth Century Portrait Painter." The Clarion 10 (Spring-Summer 1985): 40-47.
Chotner, Deborah, with contributions by Julie Aronson, Sarah D. Cash, and Laurie Weitzenkorn. American Naive Paintings. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 156-157.

Works of Art

  • Filters:
  • Sort by:
  • Results layout:

Limit to works on view

Limit to works with online images

Limit to works of classification:

Limit to works of artist nationalities:

Limit to works belonging to editions:

Limit to works created between:

Limit to works containing styles:

Limit to works containing photographic processes:

Find works executed in:

Find works containing subject terms:

Find works with an alternate reference number (for example, Key Set number) containing:

Show  results per page
The image compare list is empty.