Thomas Sully was an American painter born in England. His family moved the the U.S. in 1792, when he was 9. He studied briefly with Gilbert Stuart, and traveled to London for nine months to study with American expatriate painter Benjamin West.
Sully spent most of his career in Philadelphia. He painted such notable figures as John Quincy Adams, the Marquis de Lafayette, Thomas Jefferson and James Polk. in 1837, he traveled to England again and painted several studies and a full-length portrait of Queen Victoria (above, second from bottom).
His portraits often seem to me to be warmer in tone and have a more personal and intimate feeling than those of his contemporaries.
Sully was prolific, creating over two thousand paintings and drawings in his career. One of his lifelong passions was literature and the theatre. The Milwaukee Art Museum has mounted an exhibition titled Thomas Sully: Painted Performance, that centers on that theme. The exhibition runs from October 11, 2013 to January 5, 2014.
The museum’s website includes a preview of works from the show (images above, top six).