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A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley

Jane Kamensky, professor of history and Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University. Looking through the eyes of John Singleton Copley, Jane Kamensky reveals an unknown American Revolution. In this lecture held on October 30, 2016, at the National Gallery of Art, Kamensky draws from her new book on Copley and his world to untangle the web of principles and interests that shaped the age of America’s founding. Copley’s prodigious talent earned him the patronage of Boston’s patriot leaders, including Samuel Adams and Paul Revere. But the artist did not share their politics, and painting portraits failed to satisfy his lofty artistic goals. When resistance escalated into all-out war, Copley was in London. The magisterial canvases he created there—several of which are now in the National Gallery of Art collection—made him one of the towering figures of the British art scene: a painter of America’s Revolution as Britain’s American War. This program is coordinated with and supported by the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.