Happy Birthday to John Singleton Copley! 🎉
Known as the greatest and most influential painter of colonial America in the 18th-century, Copley's visual legacy defined realism in the American art tradition. In addition, Copley mastered portraiture and historical paintings, creating a precedent for American artists.
Copley is famous for his intense work ethic: He produced 37 portraits in just six months while staying in New York. His first sitter was Margaret Kemble Gage, the American-born wife of General Thomas Gage--the commander-in-chief of the British forces in North America. Mrs. Gage's portrait is unique and notably clothed in a Turkish-style costume,
a popular 18th-century British fashion trend called "Turquerie."
The American Revolution led Copley to spend the latter half of his life in England. Nevertheless, he experienced great success amongst both the American and British elite. Due to his innovative ideas in marketing and distribution of his work, he saturated the market as never seen before in the history of art in America, establishing an incredible legacy and contributing vitally to the forging of social identity for the American merchant class.
🖼 John Singleton Copley (American 1738-1815), "Mrs. Thomas Gage," 1771, oil on canvas.
🖼 John Singleton Copley (American 1738-1815), "Self-Portrait", c. 1780-1784, oil on canvas.
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