John Singleton Copley was born on July 3rd 1738. The son of a widowed tobacco shop owner, he was influenced artistically for the most part by his stepfather, Peter Pelham. Mr. Pelham was an Engraver by trade who married Copley's mother when John was ten years old. Through Mr. Pelham, John had access to some of the leading colonial artists of the day. One artist in particular, John Smibert, often brought his portraits to Mr. Pelham to be reproduced. Looking at Copley's early work, we can see that this had some influence on the artist in his youth.
With very little exception, most of J.S. Copley's works were portraits. In colonial New England, art was mainly valued as a way of recording likeness. A young Copley had hoped to stake his reputation with portraits and then move on to classical and mythological themes as seen in the Renaissance period.
One of Copley's most notable portraits was a family picture from 1776-1777 entitled "The Copley Family". It was painted by him after his family fled America and was reunited in London with him. We see Copley located in the background holding some papers. In my interpretation, there looks to be a tone of arrogance in his narrowed eyes. Sitting in front of him is his father in law, Richard Clarke, who holds his daughter Susanna. Just to the right of him is his other daughter Elizabeth. The child being held by the mother is John Jr. and the little girl latched onto the mother's arm is Mary, the youngest daughter. Overall, the scene appears to be a very solemn event. I honestly would not expect for a father to be so detached from the family after a 2 year separation. However there is warmness in the use of color that is absent from his previous works.
Following in Copley's footsteps was an American painter named Charles Willson Peale. He was a saddle maker by trade who took up painting after seeing some artwork in Virginia. He is believed to have…

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