Apprenticed as a saddler (1754-61). Established a shop in Annapolis (1761). Studied painting with John Hesselius (1762-63). Joined Maryland’s “Sons of Liberty” (1764).
Fled Annapolis to escape imprisonment for debt (1765). Met John Singleton Copley in Boston and studied in his studio (1765-66). Returned to Annapolis (October 1766).
Arrived in London (February 1767), where he studied under Benjamin West and first met Franklin.
After his return to Annapolis (1769), he was employed as a portraitist in Maryland and Philadelphia. Painted the first of his many portraits of Washington (1772).
Settled in Philadelphia (1776). Commissioned captain of the 4th Battalion in the Pennsylvania militia (1777). Chairman of the Constitutional Society (1778). Representative from Philadelphia to the Pennsylvania Assembly (1779-80).
Constructed an exhibition gallery in (1782). Opened a museum of natural history, later incorporated as the Philadelphia Museum (1786).
Born in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. Married in 1762 to Rachel Brewer. Married in 1791 to Elizabeth DePeyster. Married in 1805 to Hannah Moore.