Famous for his work as a painter as well as an educator, painter Robert Walter Weir was an artist of the Hudson River School and a long time instructor at the United States Military Academy.
Weir had no college degree when he decided to leave his job as a mercantile clerk and study painting in 1821. He traveled to Italy where he planned to study the Old Masters. He made copies and examinations of the works of Michelangelo and Raphael as well as many of the Renaissance painters.
He returned to New York in 1827, and stayed there for the next six years, actively working and participating in the city's thriving art scene. He was then appointed as the teacher of drawing at West Point. He would remain in the post for forty two years, teaching his own sons as well as many of the future commanders of the armies of the American Civil War.
He was commissioned by the United States government to paint a canvas for the Capitol Building in 1843. This produced his most famous painting, the "Embarkation of the Pilgrims from Delft Haven, in Holland". His Hudson River School theories are heavily at work in the scene, depicting the primary themes of the movement - discovery, exploration and settlement - while adding the religious presence of God in the landscape through the insertion of a rainbow in the background.
Much of his later work would be religiously themed, and he would serve as a solitary example of the genre throughout the rest of his career. His paintings are in many major museum collections, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. the West Point Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.