William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians


William Penn’s Treaty with the Indians


John Hall
American, 1739–1797
After Benjamin West
American, 1738–1820
Published by John Boydell, London.




In 1771, Thomas Penn commissioned Benjamin West to memorialize the legendary treaty his father, William Penn, made in the early 1680s with the Lenape people indigenous to the region surrounding the Delaware River. The gesture was more than simply filial devotion. Penn, the sole proprietor of the Pennsylvania colony since 1746, had long suffered attempts on the part of the Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly, under the leadership of Benjamin Franklin, to replace his authority with a royal government. The painting by West, completed in 1772, was intended as a public reminder of the extraordinary level of peace and harmony that had existed in the colony for nearly a century under Penn rule.

The painting's success when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1772 (although born and schooled in America, West spent the majority of his adult life in England) guaranteed a strong audience for the engraving John Hall produced for John Boydell, who published the print in 1775 under a longer title. The Palmer Museum of Art is fortunate to be able to show two examples from its collection: one colored, probably sometime in the 19th century, by hand, the other remaining black and white, as it was issued by Boydell.


Palmer Museum of Art, The Pennsylvania State University, Transfer from The Pennsylvania State University Libraries Print Collection




This image is posted publicly for non-profit educational uses, excluding printed publication. Other uses are not permitted.


Engraving and etching; Sheet: 19-1/4 x 24-7/16 in. (48.9 x 62.1 cm)