Watson's foot

John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark (detail), 1778. National Gallery of Art, Ferdinand Lammot Belin Fund 1963.6.1


During the first assault, the shark stripped the flesh from Watson's right leg below the calf. In the second attack, the shark bit off Watson's foot at the ankle.

Copley minimized the gore associated with such an attack, but traces of blood are visible in the water and on the shark's mouth. The composition is cropped to suggest the right foot is missing.

 


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