Overview

In June 1774, when he was already thirty-five years old, Copley decided that he must go to Europe. Although he intended to stay abroad just long enough to acquire artistic sophistication, the American Revolution changed his plans. Studying in Rome and stopping in many continental cities, Copley arrived in London in October 1775. There he was joined by his wife, children, and father-in-law, Richard Clarke, one of the Tory merchants whose investments had been dumped overboard at the Boston Tea Party.

In I777 at the Royal Academy, Copley exhibited The Copley Family, which records his delight at being reunited with his family. The artist portrayed himself turning away from a sheaf of his sketches to look at the spectator. His wife, Susanna, leans forward to hug their four-year-old son, John Junior. Mary, who was a year younger than her brother, lies on the sofa, while Betsy, aged six and the eldest of the children, stands with a serious aplomb indicative of her seniority. The baby, Susanna, tries to attract her grandfather's attention with a rattle. The background is fanciful; no carpeted room ever merged so ambiguously into a forest glen. Copley's contemporaries would have understood the idyllic landscape as a reference to the family's natural simplicity and the elaborate furnishings as an indication of their civilized propriety.

Inscription

Marks and Labels

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Provenance

The artist; his son, John Singleton Copley, Jr., Lord Lyndhurst [1772-1863], London; (his sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 5 March 1864, no. 91); bought by "Clarke" for the artist's granddaughter, Martha Babcock Greene Amory [Mrs. Charles Amory, 1812-1880], Boston;[1] her husband, Charles Amory [1808-1898], Boston;[2] their son, Edward Linzee Amory [1844-1911], New York;[3] his nephew, Copley Amory [1866-1960], Washington,[4] to his descendants, Copley Amory, Jr. [1890-1964], Cambridge, Massachusetts,[5] Henry Russell Amory [1892 1962], Santa Barbara, California, Katharine Amory Smith [b. 1908], Washington, Walter Amory [b. 1924], Duxbury, Massachusetts, and Elizabeth Cole Amory [b. 1955], Princeton, New Jersey;[6] sold 1961 to NGA.

Exhibition History

1777
Royal Academy, London, 1777, no. 61.
1862
International Exhibition, London, 1862, no. 51.
1873
Boston Atheneum, 1873, no. 144.
1874
Boston Atheneum, 1874, no. 130.
1888
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1888-1916, 1921-1925.
1938
John Singleton Copley, 1738-1815, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1938, no. 22.
1941
On loan to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1941-1951.
1965
John Singleton Copley, 1738-1815, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Metropolitan Musuem of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1965-1966, no. 61.
1974
American Self-Portraits 1670-1973, National Portrait Gallery, Washington; Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1974, no. 6 (shown in Washington only).
1980
La Pintura de Los Estados Unidos de Museos de la Ciudad de Washington, Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 1980-1981, no. 1, color repro.
1995
John Singleton Copley in England, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1995-1996, no. 1, repro.

Bibliography

1777
"John's Impression," The Morning Chronicle, and London Advertiser, April 26, 1777.
1777
_The London Packet, or New Lloyd's Evening Post, April 25-28, 1777.
1832
Cunningham, Allan. The Lives of the Most Eminent British Painters, Sculptors and Architects. London, 1829-1833: 6 vols. (1832): 5:178-179.
1862
International Exhibition, Exh. cat. London, 1862, no. 51. [See Graves, Algernon. A Century of Loan Exhibitions London, 1912: 1:206, no. 51, "Family Portraits," lent by Lord Lyndhurst.
1867
Tuckerman, Henry T. Book of the Artists. New York, 1867: 79.
1873
Perkins, Augustus Thorndike. A Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley. Boston, 1873: 20-21, 48-49, 134.
1874
Boston Atheneum, Exh. cat. 1874, no. 130. [See Yarnall and Gerdts 1986, 825, under "Museum of Fine Arts, Boston."]
1882
Amory, Martha Babcock. The Domestic and Artistic Life of John Singleton Copley, R.A.. Boston, 1882: 12, 23, 77-80, 106-107, 240, 262-263, 438.
1888
Cook, Clarence. Art and Artists of Our Time. 3 vols. New York, 1888: 3:159, repro., 160.
1890
Trustees of the Museum of Fine Arts. Fourteenth Annual Report (for the year ending December 31, 1889). Boston, 1890: 46.
1892
Museum of Fine Arts. Catalogue of Paintings and Drawings, With a Summary of other Works of Art, Exhibited on the Second Floor. 3rd ed. Boston, 1892: 15, no. 140.
1895
Museum of Fine Arts. Catalogue of Paintings and Drawings, With a Summary of other Works of Art, Exhibited on the Second Floor, Boston, 1895: 17, no. 150.
1903
"Second Picture Gallery." Museum of Fine Arts Bulletin 1, no. 3 (July 1903): 18.
1905
Isham, Samuel. The History of American Painting. New York, 1905: 37-38, repro. 35.
1906
_Handbook of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Boston, 1906: 102, repro.
1910
Bayley, Frank W. A Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley. Boston, 1910: 35.
1915
Bayley, Frank W. The Life and Works of John Singleton Copley. Boston, 1915: 35-36, 79, 101-102.
1924
Addison, Julia de Wolf. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Rev. ed. Boston, 1924: 6-7.
1930
Bolton, Theodore and Harry Lorin Binsse. "John Singleton Copley." The Antiquarian 15 (December 1930): 116.
1938
_John Singleton Copley, 1738-1815, Exh. cat. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1938: no. 22.
1938
Parker, Barbara Neville and Anne Bolling Wheeler. John Singleton Copley: American Portraits in Oil, Pastel, and Miniature with Biographical Sketches. Boston, 1938: 8-9.
1943
Walker, John, and MacGill James. Great American Paintings from Smibert to Bellows 1729-1924. London and New York, 1943: 22, pl. 11.
1944
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds., Masterpieces of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. New York, 1944: 140, color repro.
1951
Walker, John. Paintings from America. Harmondsworth, England, 1951: 16, 42, pl. 5.
1963
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. New York, 1963 (reprinted 1964 in French, German, and Spanish): 230, repro.
1965
_John Singleton Copley, Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; Metropolitan Musuem of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1965-1966: no. 61.
1966
Cairns, Huntington, and John Walker, eds. A Pageant of Painting from the National Gallery of Art. 2 vols. New York, 1966: 2:394, color repro.
1966
Prown, Jules David. John Singleton Copley. 2 vols. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1966: 1:61; 2:262-263, n. 373, 387, 403-404, 414-415, fig. 344.
1970
_American Paintings and Sculpture: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1970: 44, repro.
1972
Curwen, Samuel. The Journal of Samuel Curwen, Loyalist. Andrew Oliver ed. 2 vols. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1972: 1:132; 2:701.
1974
_American Self-Portraits 1670-1973. Exh. cat. National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Indianapolis Museum of Art. Washington, D.C., 1974: no. 6.
1975
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: color repro. 389.
1980
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1980: 136, repro.
1980
_La Pintura de Los Estados Unidos de Museos de la Ciudad de Washington. Exh. cat. Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City, 1980-1981: no. 1.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Light: The Luminist Movement, 1850-1875, Paintings, Drawings, Photographs. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 46, color repro. 47.
1980
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1980: 13, no. 4, color repro.
1981
Williams 1981, 24, 30, color repro. 44-45.
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 384, no. 545, color repro.
1986
Prown, Jules David. "Benjamin West's Family Picture: A Nativity in Hammersmith." In Honor of Paul Mellon, Collector and Benefactor: Essays.John Wilmerding, ed. Washington, 1986: 281, 286 n. 32, repro. 279.
1987
Lovell, Margaretta M. "Reading Eighteenth-Century American Family Portraits; Social Images and Self-Images." Winterthur Portfolio 22, no. 4 (Winter 1987): 256, repro. 259.
1988
Wilmerding, John. American Masterpieces from the National Gallery of Art. Rev. ed. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988: 54, no. 4, color repro.
1992
_American Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 150, repro.
1992
_National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 210, repro.
1995
_John Singleton Copley in England. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, 1995-1996: no. 1.
1995
Miles, Ellen G. American Paintings of the Eighteenth Century. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1995: 46-54, color repro. 47.
1998
Boeckl, Christine M. "Self-Portraits: Men" in Helene E. Roberts, ed., Encyclopedia of Comparative Iconography: Themes Depicted in Works of Art. 2 vols. Chicago, 1998: 2:803.
1999
Zuffi, Stefano and Francesca Castria, La peinture baroque. Translated from Italian by Silvia Bonucci and Claude Sophie Mazéas. Paris, 1999: 391, color repro.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 286-287, no. 232, color repro.
2010
Carp, Benjamin L. Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party & the Making of America. New Haven, 2010: 72, fig. 14.

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