John Singleton Copley
American painter



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John Singleton Copley
American painter
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Date of Birth

July 03, 1738

Place of Birth

Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

Date of Death

September 09, 1815

Place of Death

London, United Kingdom

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ldewey's picture


John Singleton Copley didn’t exactly come from artistic ilk.

His parents immigrated to colonial Boston from Ireland to run a tobacco shop on Long Wharf. Soon after arriving in America, Copley’s father had a bout of ill health and took a trip to the West Indies for some fresh air. Unfortunately for Copley, his poor old dad met an untimely end there. But fortunately for us, Copley’s stepdad was a noted painter and engraver and passed on some of his creative talent and a well-rounded academic education to little Johnny.

By all accounts, John Copley was a bit of a wet blanket. He was decidedly unadventurous and inclined to wallow in self pity. He once referred to himself as “desirous of avoiding every imputation of party spirit” and his Wiki suggests that hw was "physically unadventurous and temperamentally inclined toward brooding and self-pity." What a fun guy...

Despite his brooding nature, Copley made a pretty penny from his portraits, bought a fancy house in the nicest part of Boston, dressed like a true aristocrat, and managed to score a hot wife who reared his six children. 

Copley’s father-in-law owned the tea that was dumped into the Boston Harbor during the infamous Boston Tea party. According to Mr. Banks in Mary Poppins, this rendered the tea "unsuitable for drinking, even to Americans." Copley, as Boston’s resident wuss, was sufficiently afraid of the chaos of the American battle for independence that he decided to pick up and move his family back to England. He remained there until he died of a stroke at age 77.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about John Singleton Copley

John Singleton Copley /ˈkɑːpli/ RA (1738 – September 9, 1815) was an Anglo-American painter, active in both colonial America and England. He was probably born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Richard and Mary Singleton Copley, both Anglo-Irish. After becoming well-established as a portrait painter of the wealthy in colonial New England, he moved to London in 1774, never returning to America. In London, he met considerable success as a portraitist for the next two decades, and also painted a number of large history paintings, which were innovative in their readiness to depict modern subjects and modern dress. His later years were less successful, and he died heavily in debt.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about John Singleton Copley.

Comments (5)



pogo agogo

He looks like King George in Hamilton


A real character, this Copley


A real character, that Copley*


Boring and does not know how to paint sharks - three stars...