Thomas Willing

Charles Willson Peale American

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 755

Philadelphia-born Thomas Willing (1731–1821) partnered with British-born Robert Morris (1734–1806) to establish the mercantile firm Willing, Morris and Company in 1757. It became one of the most successful in Philadelphia, exporting flour, tobacco, and lumber to Europe, as well as importing sugar, rum, molasses, and—most abhorrently—enslaved laborers from the West Indies and Africa. Here, Peale depicted the merchant framed by a view of the Atlantic Ocean, the source of his wealth and status. Willing holds an emblem of his transatlantic trade and patriotism. Made of imported silver and tortoiseshell, the box—featuring a profile of his close friend George Washington— held snuff, a finely powdered tobacco that was one of Willing’s profitable exports.

Thomas Willing, Charles Willson Peale (American, Chester, Maryland 1741–1827 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Oil on canvas, American

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.