JOHN SINGLETON COPLEY, one of the two great painters who laid the foundation of true American art, was born.
in Boston in 1737, one year earlier than his great contemporary, Benjamin West. His education was limited to the
common schools of that time, and his training in art he obtamed by his own observation and experiments solely.
When he was about seventeen years old he had mapped out his future, however, by choosing painting as his profession.
If he ever studied under any teacher in his early efforts, we have no authentic account of it, and tradition credits
the young artist's wonderful success entirely to his own talent and untiring effort. It is almost incredible that
at the age of twenty three years his income from his works aggregated fifteen hundred dollars per annum, a very
great sum in those days. In 1774 he went to Europe in search of material for study, which was so rare in his native
land. After some time spent in Italy he finally took up his permanent residence in England. In 1783 he was made
a member of the Royal Academy, and later his son had the high honor of becoming lord chancellor of England and
Many specimens of Copley's work are to be found in the Memorial Hall at Harvard and in the Boston Museum, as well
as a few of the works upon which he modeled his style. Copley was essentially a portrait painter, though his historical
paintings attained great celebrity, his masterpiece being his Death of Major Pierson," though that distinction
has by some been given to his "Death of Chatham." It is said that he never saw a good picture until he
was thirty five years old, yet his portraits prior to that period are regarded as rare specimens. He died in 1815.
A Biographical Record
Of Schuyler County, New York
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
New York and Chicago 1903.
Names A to H
Names I to Z
Biographies of the Presidents.
Railway Officials in America 1906
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