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John Singleton Copley's Watson and the Shark

January 17 – April 11, 1993
West Building, Main Floor, Galleries 74, 75

John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, 1778 oil on canvas, Ferdinand Lammot Belin Fund, 1963.6.1

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

Overview: A focus exhibition featured John Singleton Copley's painting of the dramatic rescue of Brook Watson from a shark attack in Havana Harbor. Also on view were 2 other painted versions of the scene, 5 preparatory drawings, and an oil study by Copley, as well as 6 engravings of the subject by earlier artists. Watson and the Shark was the first large-scale history painting Copley created abroad. This was one in a series of focus exhibitions organized to examine important works of art in the Gallery's collections. A related teacher workshop, "John Singleton Copley and Colonial American Painting," was held January 30.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art in cooperation with the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Guest curator was Ellen G. Miles, curator of painting and sculpture at the National Portrait Gallery. Nicolai Cikovsky Jr., curator of American and British paintings, was the coordinating curator for the Gallery.

Attendance: 76,307

Brochure: John Singleton Copley's Watson and the Shark, by Ellen G. Miles. Washington, DC: National Gallery of Art, 1993.

Other Venues: Detroit Institute of Arts, October 3, 1992–January 1, 1993
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, May 13–August 1, 1993

Copley, John Singleton
American, 1738 - 1815