July 3, 1738

Painter John Singleton Copley Born

Region:
Greater Boston
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On this day in 1738, John Singleton Copley was born in Boston to recent Irish immigrants. From these humble beginnings, he became the foremost artist in colonial America. His natural talent, attention to detail, and determination made up for his lack of formal artistic training. A key ingredient in his success was his ability to paint his subjects in poses and settings borrowed from the English aristocracy they so admired. Although he and his family lived in an elegant mansion on Beacon Hill, Copley was "mortified" that his countrymen considered an artist "little better than a carpenter or shoemaker." When the coming Revolution caused most of his wealthy clients to leave Boston, he left, too. He never returned to his native land.

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