David M Lubin

The Boy from Boston

A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copely

By Jane Kamensky

W W Norton & Co 526pp £25 order from our bookshop

As Jane Kamensky’s brilliant new biography demonstrates with insight and elegance, John Singleton Copley had one of the great second acts in any artist’s life. When Copley, colonial America’s leading portrait painter, ran into the juggernaut of the Revolution, he reluctantly left his homeland, never to return. Setting up shop in London, he produced some of the most influential history paintings in Western art. During this phase of his career, he also pioneered new, not always appreciated pathways for the modern artist as a self-promoting, fortune-hunting entrepreneur. It was Copley’s third act that didn’t go so well.

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