John Singleton Copley

Self-Portrait, 1769; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, by exchange, Anonymous Gift, and Virginia Marvin Stoughton Bequest, 2006 (2006.235.32). Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

John Singleton Copley, though almost entirely self-taught, rose to stardom in colonial America and is considered one of America’s greatest painters. He painted with remarkable realism and polish many of the most prominent individuals in British North America, including Paul Revere and John Hancock. However, he was equally at home painting British generals and their wives, so he did not choose sides before the American Revolution as long as people were willing to pay his fee.  However, when the Revolution began, he had to make a choice:  his wife’s family was loyal to the King, so the Copleys moved permanently to England. Copley continued to paint until several months before his death at age 77.