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West was born in 1788 in Lexington, Kentucky, and maintained a long association with the families and history of the lower Mississippi River valley. Although largely self-taught, he had spent time with Thomas Sully in his studio in Philadelphia around 1807-10, and had first-hand exposure to the works of Gilbert Stuart. Their influences on his early portrait style are revealed in the formal rendering of figure and details, as well as the painterly treatment of drapery and simple, atmospheric background. Born in Virginia, Hinds (1780-1840) moved to Mississippi territory and settled in Jefferson County. He was a lieutenant, and then captain in the Jefferson Dragoons (1806-1808) and thereafter was a captain and major in the Mississippi Dragoons cavalry battalion. A friend and brother-in-arms of General Andrew Jackson, he led his unit during the Creek War, and commanded the cavalry at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, for which he was presented the eagle-head sword so prominently portrayed in West's portrait.
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