12 Works, July 3rd. is John Singleton Copley’s day, his story, illustrated with footnotes #180

John Singleton Copley
Watson and the Shark, c. 1778

Oil on canvas
182.1 x 229.7 cm (71 11/16 x 90 7/16 in.)
The National Gallery of Art

In 1749, 14–year–old Brook Watson had been attacked by a shark while swimming in Havana Harbor. Copley’s pictorial account of the traumatic ordeal shows nine seamen rushing to help the boy, while the bloody water proves he has just lost his right foot. To lend equal believability to the setting Copley, who had never visited the Caribbean, consulted maps and prints of Cuba. More on this painting

John Singleton Copley RA (1738 — September 9, 1815) was an Anglo-American painter, active in both colonial America and England. Copley was born in Boston in 1738, and grew up there, training in the visual arts under his step-father Peter Pelham (c. 1697–1751), an English engraver who had immigrated in 1727 and married Copley’s widowed mother in 1748. Copley’s earliest paintings, from the mid-1750s, reveal the influence of English mezzotint portraits as well as the work of local and itinerant artists. He experimented with many media: oil on canvas, miniatures on copper or ivory, pastel, and printmaking. By the late 1750s he was established as a portrait painter…

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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