The American Cyclopædia (1879)/Copley, John Singleton
COPLEY, John Singleton, an American painter, born in Boston, July 3, 1737, died in London in September, 1815. Without the aid of instructors, and before seeing any tolerable picture, he painted pieces which were highly admired. In his 17th year he adopted painting as a profession, and in 1760 he sent to the royal academy a picture of a “Boy and Tame Squirrel,” the coloring of which was deemed exquisite. He obtained a considerable income as a portrait painter, till in 1774 he visited Italy, where he studied especially the works of Titian and Correggio. In 1775 he established himself in London, and in 1783 was chosen a member of the royal academy. The most celebrated of his works is the “Death of Lord Chatham,” now in the national gallery, representing the orator falling after his speech in opposition to the American war, and containing also portraits of the most distinguished peers. It was engraved by Bartolozzi on a plate of 30 inches by 22, and impressions were sent by the painter to Washington and John Adams. In 1790 he was commissioned to paint the large picture, now in the council chamber of the Guildhall, of the “Siege and Relief of Gibraltar.” Some of his most esteemed paintings are portraits of several members of the royal family, “Major Pierson's Death on the Isle of Jersey,” “Charles I. demanding the five Impeached Members in the House of Commons,” and the “Surrender of Admiral de Whiter to Lord Duncan.” They are remarkable for correctness of drawing and brilliancy of coloring. His best works were collected by his son Lord Lyndhurst, and many of them have been engraved. A sketch of his life and works, by A. T. Perkins, was published in Boston in 1873.