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John Singleton Copley

John Singleton Copley

   •   Portrait painting   •   Wikipedia: John Singleton Copley
123 Discovered works of art  •  ID: #3058
Few painters became famous as teenagers thanks to their talent. Surely a prime example of this is John Singleton Copley, who grew up as the son of Anglo-Irish colonists in Boston (Massachusetts) and already at the age of 14 made a portrait of his brother. At the age of fifteen he earned his first money with the portrait of a local clergyman, and at sixteen he painted his early work "Mars, Venus and Vulcan", which is still known today. Copley not only nurtured the family through his art, he also rose quickly to the upper reaches of Boston.

During this period of the Seven Years' War over the possession of Canada, "America" was considered a rough corner and eternal trouble spot. Maybe that's why Copley's pictures from 1766 on in the UK caused a sensation, especially the portrait "boy with squirrel". Critics compared him to Rubens or van Dyck , and recommended a commitment in Europe. While Boston was gradually becoming the stronghold of colonial dissatisfaction, Copley was emphatically apolitical; his wife's family were all "loyalists" - his father-in-law, Mr. Clarke, was one of the most damaged importers at the famous "Boston Tea Party." Copley left Massachusetts in the year the war broke out in 1774 and was never to return.

In London, Copley began a second career as a history painter. Historical pieces were in high demand in the nationally conscious, up-and-coming island kingdom of that time. So he debuted with the "Death of the Earl of Chatham" and painted seascapes like the surrender of Admiral de Winter, but also religious themes like "Hagar and Ishmael in the desert". But Copley did not deny his American roots. After independence of the United States, he was the first who dared to paint a US flag ship - "Watson and the Hai", a great relief, became a success on both sides of the Atlantic. Copley portrayed many well-known Americans during their London stays, including the later US presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams. However, visits to the old homeland never came to fruition. The Napoleonic Wars consumed his fortune.

John Singleton Copley is valued today on both sides of the Atlantic. His son John Singleton Copley Jr., a brilliant lawyer and legal scholar, later became British Lord Chancellor. © Meisterdrucke


John Scollay, 1760
1760 | Oil on canvas

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John Scollay, 1760
1760 | Oil on canvas

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Joseph Warren
Undated | engraving

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Latitia F. Balfour, 1782
1782 | Oil on canvas

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Latitia F. Balfour, 1782
1782 | Oil on canvas

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Benjamin West, c.1776-80
1776 | oil on canvas

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Benjamin West, c.1776-80
1776 | oil on canvas

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