Francis Martin Drexel

American, born Austria
Life Dates

Drexel worked as an itinerant housepainter in Switzerland, Italy, and France before beginning his studies in fine art in Austria. In 1817, he immigrated to Philadelphia, where he rented a studio with the goal of establishing himself as an artist. He went on to become a successful portrait painter and miniaturist. He exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and received commissions from across the globe. 

In 1837, Drexel switched careers and founded Drexel and Company, a successful bank that financed a number of industrial enterprises in Philadelphia and elsewhere in the United States. The bank opened affiliate branches in Paris and New York and made the Drexel family quite wealthy. Drexel also founded Drexel University.           

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