Comparison between Copley's paintings

The identity of this model unknown, but he is also the subject of a fine portrait study in the Detroit Institute of Arts. Perhaps Copley altered the figure to serve as a reference to the Caribbean locale. It is also possible that figure may have been changed at Watson's insistence, based on his personal recollection of the event.

Comparison between Copley's paintings

Left: John Singleton Copley, Head of a Negro, 1777/1778, oil on canvas, 53.3 x 41.3 cm. The Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase, Gibbs-Williams Fund. Photograph © 1986 The Detroit Institute of Arts. Right: John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark (detail), 1778. National Gallery of Art, Ferdinand Lammot Belin Fund 1963.6.1


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