A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley
John Singleton Copley was colonial America’s premier painter. His brush strokes captured the faces of his neighbors―ordinary men like Paul Revere, John Hancock, and Samuel Adams―who would become the revolutionary heroes of a new United States. Today, Copley’s brilliant portraits evoke patriotic fervor and rebellious optimism in museums across America. The artist, however, did not share his subjects’ political allegiances. Copley’s nation was Britain, and his capital London. When rebellion sundered Britain’s empire, Copley sought the safest home for his family. So, by the time the United States declared its independence, he was back in London. Copley painted America’s revolution from a far shore as Britain’s American War of Independence. Historian Jane Kamensky will present an intimate portrait of John Singleton Copley, drawing from her book, A Revolution in Color.
Jane Kamensky is Professor of History at Harvard University and Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She received her BA and PhD in history from Yale University. Her many books include The Exchange Artist, a finalist for the George Washington Book Prize; and Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England.
Visit the Athenæum’s Digital Collections to view John Singleton Copley’s Study for Figure Pulling on Rope and Death Group, identified as both a study for Copley’s painting The Death of Major Pierson and a study for his painting The Siege of Gibraltar.
This event is the third program in “The Art of War,” a four-part series investigating artists’ responses to war and violence from the American Revolution to today. Join us for the rest of the series:
Beyond Stereotype: War, Warriors, and the Creative Arts
Monday, January 30, 2017
Discussion with former US Marine Corps combat artist Michael D. Fay and cultural historian Tara Leigh Tappert
The (Modern) Art of War
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Lecture by author Sally Pemberton
Make Art Not War: Anti-War Artists’ Books in the Rare Books Collection of the Boston Athenæum
Thursday, March 9, 2017
Presentation of anti-war artists’ books by Stanley Ellis Cushing, Anne C. and David J. Bromer Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Boston Athenæum
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