John Singleton Copley Biography
(American Painter Known for His Work ‘Watson and the Shark’)
Birthday: July 3, 1738 (Cancer)
Born In: Boston, Massachusetts, United States
John Singleton Copley was one of the most prominent painters in colonial America and England. He was famous for his portrait paintings of important figures in colonial England. He had an innovative and different style of depicting his subjects and had an uncanny ability to create impressive illusions of people with distinct textures of skin, hair and textiles using dramatic contrasts of light and dark. Not much is known about Copley’s boyhood and youth, but it is an accepted fact that he received training in painting, printmaking and portraiture from the famous engraver Peter Pelham who later became Copley’s step-father. Besides Pelham, the young Copley also came under the influence of English artists, John Smibert and Joseph Blackburn, both of whom had impacted the painting styles of the 17th and 18th centuries. Copley had the chance to see and examine the paintings of these great artists. Joseph Blackburn was the most significant influence upon the development of his artistic abilities. He got the opportunity to learn about compositions, rocco poses and themes from Blackburn’s work. A lifelong observer and learner, Copley developed such a high degree of artistic excellence that he went on to become the first American painter to achieve a high level of social status as well as financial recognition.