John Singleton Copley


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Copley, John Singleton

(kŏp`lē), 1738–1815, American portrait painter, b. Boston. Copley is considered the greatest of the American old masters. He studied with his stepfather, Peter PelhamPelham, Peter
, c.1695–1751, American engraver and painter, b. England; stepfather of John Singleton Copley. After studying and practicing in England, Pelham settled (c.1728) in Boston. He produced engravings of Cotton Mather and Increase Mather based on his own paintings.
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, and undoubtedly frequented the studios of SmibertSmibert or Smybert, John
, 1688–1751, American portrait painter, b. Scotland, the first skillful painter in New England. After his apprenticeship to an Edinburgh house painter, he went to London.
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 and FekeFeke, Robert
, c.1705–c.1750, early American portrait painter, b. Oyster Bay, N.Y. He practiced in Newport, R.I., New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston. He probably studied in Europe for a time, but soon developed a very personal painting style.
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. At 20 he was already a successful portrait painter with a mature style remarkable for its brilliance, clarity, and forthright characterization. In 1766 his Boy with the Squirrel was exhibited in London and won the admiration of Benjamin WestWest, Benjamin,
1738–1820, American historical painter who worked in England. He was born in Springfield, Pa., in a house that is now a memorial museum at Swarthmore College.
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, who urged him to come to England. However, he remained in America for eight years longer and worked in New York City and Philadelphia as well as in Boston.

In 1774 Copley visited Italy and then settled in London, where he spent the remainder of his life, enjoying many honors and the patronage of a distinguished clientele. In England his style gained in subtlety and polish but lost most of the vigor and individuality of his early work. He continued to paint portraits but enlarged his repertoire to include the enormous historical paintings that constituted the chief basis of his fame abroad. His large historical painting The Death of Lord Chatham (Tate Gall., London) gained him admittance to the Royal Academy. His rendering of a contemporary disaster, Brook Watson and the Shark (Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston), stands as a unique forerunner of romantic horror painting.

Today Copley's reputation rests largely upon his early American portraits, which are treasured not only for their splendid pictorial qualities but also as the most powerful graphic record of their time and place. Portraits such as those of Nicholas Boylston and Mrs. Thomas Boylston (Harvard), Daniel Hubbard (Art Inst., Chicago), Gov. Mifflin and Mrs. Mifflin (Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia), and Paul Revere (Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston) are priceless documents in which the life of a whole society seems mirrored. Among his finest later portraits are the curiously distorted image of Samuel Adams (Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston) and the group portrait of the Copley family (privately owned). The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has an excellent collection of his works. Copley's son was Baron LyndhurstLyndhurst, John Singleton Copley, Baron,
1772–1863, British jurist, b. Boston, Mass.; son of John Singleton Copley, the American painter. Educated in England, he was called to the bar in 1804.
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.

Bibliography

See catalog with biography by J. D. Prown (1966); biographies by J. T. Flexner (rev. ed. 1948) and A. V. Frankenstein (1970); C. Rebora et al., John Singleton Copley in America (1995); J. Kamensky, A Revolution in Color (2016).


Copley, John Singleton,

1772–1863, British jurist: see Lyndhurst, John Singleton Copley, BaronLyndhurst, John Singleton Copley, Baron,
1772–1863, British jurist, b. Boston, Mass.; son of John Singleton Copley, the American painter. Educated in England, he was called to the bar in 1804.
..... Click the link for more information.
.

Copley, John Singleton

 

Born July 3, 1738, in Boston; died Sept. 9, 1815, in London. American painter.

After 1774, Copley lived primarily in London, where he became a member of the Academy of Arts in 1799. He painted realist portraits, sometimes in pastels, which are distinguished by a sincere and fresh realistic approach (Nathaniel Ward, 1765–70, Art Museum, Cleveland; The Boy With a Squirrel c. 1765, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). Among Copley’s historical paintings, which reflect a tendency toward purely external effects, his pictures with preromantic elements are particularly noteworthy (Brook Watson and the Shark, 1782, Boston Museum of Fine Arts).

REFERENCE

Prown, J. D. J. S. Copley, vols. 1–2. Cambridge (Mass.), 1966.

Copley, John Singleton

(1738–1815) painter; born in Boston, Mass. (stepson of Peter Pelham). Considered the foremost portrait painter in colonial America, he settled in England (1775) at the urging of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Benjamin West. Although his family was Loyalist, he himself remained neutral during the American Revolution. He was successful in England, as seen in his historical subjects, such as Death of Major Peirson (1782–84). His reputation is based on his early American work, as in Boy with Squirrel (1765), a portrait of his half brother, Henry Pelham. Watson and the Shark (1778) is his most famous narrative painting.
References in periodicals archive ?
On 30 September 1762, 24-year-old Bostonian John Singleton Copley wrote to Jean-Etienne Liotard (1702-1789), by then aged nearly 60, whom he had previously met in London, asking for help in procuring 'a sett of the best Swiss Crayons for drawing of Portraits'.
Before returning to America, Derby sat for the eminent portraitist John Singleton Copley.
Even so, the list of individuals whose portraits are featured reads like a "Who's Who" of great American statesmen, writers, entertainers, educators and scientists, including George Washington, Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Singleton Copley, Henry Clay, Mary Cassatt, Henry James, Marianne Moore, John Singer Sargent, George Washington Carver, John Updike and Michael Jackson.
Some 250 years worth of paintings and sculpture--ranging from a colonial-era portrait by John Singleton Copley to a Pop-era "Campbell's Tomato Juice" box by Andy Warhol--join in revelatory combinations with objects in other media to tell the story of art and life in the United States.
JOHN SINGLETON COPLEY, well-known as the finest American portraitist of the colonial era, followed this achievement with another long and successful painting career in England.
John Singleton Copley completed a portrait of John Hancock.
From the carved gravestones of the Puritans to today's abstract sculptures, from the colonial portraiture of John Singleton Copley to the abstract paintings of Jackson Pollock, American art is wide-ranging and diverse.
John Stevens" by John Singleton Copley, who is considered to be one of the most important portraitists of the colonial United States.
Part I, ``Republic of Virtue'': The series opens with Hughes casting a cynical eye at the Greco-Roman ``architecture'' at Caesars Palace, and leading viewers through an overview of American idealism, with a loving look at Maya Lin's Vietnam Memorial and Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, and painters John Singleton Copley and Thomas Cole.
The rising prestige of American artists in the world was reflected in the career of John Singleton Copley, who was at the peak of his powers at this time, and was soon to become one of America's earliest expatriate artists.
Opened in 1931, the Addison has one of the most important collections of American art in the country that includes approximately 16,000 works by prominent American artists such as George Bellows, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Georgia O'Keeffe and Jackson Pollock, as well as photographers Eadweard Muybridge, Walker Evans, Robert Frank and many more.
Perhaps the first note of romanticism in painting by an American was struck by John Singleton Copley, then in London, in his painting Brook Watson and the Shark.