Portraiture was the main subject for American art during the colonial period. Portraits helped colonists document and maintain family and business relationships as well as demonstrating their wealth and taste. The paintings were often based on British and European art, and thus became a way for North American colonists to link themselves visually to the culture of their homelands. After the Revolutionary War, artists made many portraits of founding fathers such as George Washington, to celebrate their achievements but also to provide models for American citizenship!
A few artists in the colonial period began exploring the richness of North American nature, as well as the continent's indigenous peoples.
Charles Willson Peale
John Singleton Copley
Mrs. Theodore Atkinson, Jr. (Frances Deering Wentworth)
Gerardus Duyckinck I (attributed to)
Charles Bird King
Ottoe Half Chief, Husband of Eagle of Delight