National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of Colonel William Fitch and His Sisters Sarah and Ann Fitch John Singleton Copley (painter)
American, 1738 - 1815
Colonel William Fitch and His Sisters Sarah and Ann Fitch, 1800/1801
oil on canvas
overall: 257.8 x 340.4 cm (101 1/2 x 134 in.) framed: 283.9 x 365.8 x 11.1 cm (111 3/4 x 144 x 4 3/8 in.)
Gift of Eleanor Lothrop, Gordon Abbott, and Katharine A. Batchelder
1960.4.1
Not on View
From the Tour: John Singleton Copley
Object 11 of 12

The red-coated William Fitch (1756-1795), an American-born officer in the British army, prepares to depart on a magnificent steed. Since Colonel Fitch had been killed in action at Jamaica six years before this gigantic group portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1801, Copley must have painted his late friend’s image from memory or from other likenesses. Fitch’s two sisters, dressed in mourning, reach poignantly toward their lost brother. The antique urn is a funerary emblem, and the fiery sunset is a reminder of time’s passage.

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