His swift ascent and sustained eminence were the result of an innate ability to handle paint and produce images that was unlike anything created by his predecessors in America. He worked in various media to please patrons, creating pastels, paintings, and miniatures.
Copley had another extraordinary skill: he achieved his position as portraitist to the merchant elite of New York and Boston because he thought and behaved like a gentleman. He closely identified with his patrons and, until their world collapsed on the eve of the American Revolution, captured their values and hopes.
According to art historian Paul Staiti, Copley was the greatest and most influential painter in colonial America, producing about 350 works of art.
Below are six pictures that Sophia and Olivia looked at for a period of time. Then they shared what they remembered.
Paul Revere, 1768-70.
=> In the picture, Paul Revere is sitting at a table that is a dark brown.
=> He is sitting with his right elbow on the table underneath his chin, and his left hand on the table on top of a big round dark golden pillow.
=> In his left hand, he's holding a silver tea pot. The tea pot top looks like an acorn top.
=> Next to the hand there are two things that could be either writing utensils or maybe little bottles of ink.
=> Next to his other elbow, there appears to be a pencil.
=> He is wearing a white flowy shirt that Colonial men used to wear. Over that is sort of a dark green vest on.
=> He has relatively fair skin, but his cheeks are rather pink.
=> He has slightly long hair and it is brown and slicked back.
=> Part of his face is in shadow so you can't see many details.
=> He doesn't look like he's in thought...he just looks like he's staring.
=> The room behind him is dark and there aren't any lights.
=> He's not particularly handsome, but he's not unattractive. He's someone you probably wouldn't notice if he was wearing modern-day clothes.
=> He's wearing a white shirt with a black vest with white buttons.
=> There's a table in front of him that looks like mahogany that looks like it is polished...if they even had that back then.
=> In his left hand there is a silver tea pot or kettle with a black handle.
=> By his right arm there is a pencil and a little towards the middle there are two pipes for smoking....I don't know.
=> On his cheek, there is a peachy-color.
=> In the background, there is a plain black wall. It was all black.
=> His hair is kind of the same color as the table which is dark brown.
=> His eyes may be a hazel color.
=> His mouth is in a straight line. You couldn't see any teeth.
The Copley Family, 1776-7.
=> There are two men, a woman, and four younger girls.
=> It looks like they are posing for a picture or a portrait.
=> The background is a lake and hills; and bordering the sides are trees.
=> The younger man - maybe the husband of the woman - is leaning against a pedestal; and seated in front of him is an older man who has the youngest girl on his lap and she's reaching up towards his collar.
=> To the left of him on a sofa is the lady with dark brown hair, and her hair is piled up on top of her head. She is wearing a royal blue gown with little white slippers.
=> Underneath her feet is a pillow that's the same color as the couch.
=> The second oldest girl has her arm around the mom's or lady's neck. The lady is reaching down towards her as if giving her a hug or something.
=> The second youngest girl is on her other side and reaching towards her.
=> The oldest girl is standing between the older man and the couch.
=> They aren't really smiling except the little girl on the older man's lap.
=> Both men are probably wearing wigs.
=> All the little girls are wearing white dresses with different color bows. The top part of the oldest girl's dress is white and the bottom is striped, and she has a bustle in the back..
=> There were seven people in the picture - 4 girls, 2 men, and 1 woman.
=> Four little girls are dressed in white; and the woman is dressed in a blue satin dress.
=> The two men are kind of dressed alike - wearing black and a little white.
=> There's a doll on the ground in left corner.
=> There are mountains that look like hills in the background because they are rounded at the top.
=> The woman is seated on a sofa which has fabric that has gold designs on it.
=> Also on the left there is a curtain that is the same fabric as the sofa.
=> There are some trees in the background.
=> There's a hat by the doll...or what looks like a hat.
=> Two of the small girls have blonde hair; and the woman and the other two girls have brown hair.
=> The men were wearing white wigs.
The Death of the Earl of Chatham, 1779-81.
=> There is a large room with intricate paintings on part of the ceiling and the walls.
=> There may be 200 people in the room, and the majority of them are wearing red robes with gold trim and white underneath.
=> In the far back of the room, there is a canopy that might house a chair - as if for royalty.
=> Towards the front of the picture to the right hand side, there is a man who is laying on a red couch. He probably is the Earl of Chatham since he doesn't look alive.
=> All the people are crowded around the Earl, but not too close, and they are looking at him.
=> One of the men is standing behind the Earl and his right hand is sort of gesturing towards the paintings on the wall as if saying a prayer or something.
=> The room has a sort of a dark feeling; and there aren't any windows that you can see.
=> A little ways from the Earl is a desk with some papers and stuff on it. Sitting behind it is a man in a red robe that has a little black on it.
=> There are lots of people, and most of them are wearing red, white, and gold.
=> Pretty much all the people are men and they are wearing white wigs.
=> There are three men who are wearing black.
=> There looks to be a bed in the background and it has a canopy that's red and gold.
=> There looks like there's a lot of paintings or that the walls are painted.
=> There's a man who must be the Earl because he's kind of laying and he's very pale.
=> They are all crowded around the person who died.
=> Some of the people looked sad and others looked shocked.
=> The ceiling looks like one you'd see in a Cathedral. It kind of has a dome.
The Defeat of the Floating Batteries at Gibraltar, September 1782, 1783-91.
=> There are two ships out on the water and one of them appears to be on fire because there seems to be copious amounts of smoke coming from its mast.
=> On the shore there are quite a few Red Coats and one of them is sitting on the horse. That person appears to be the general.
=> He is facing the two ships that are burning and watching as the people on board the ships are coming ashore.
=> In one of the boats coming ashore, there is a man on board and he's looking towards the Red Coats.
=> The sky is a dark reddish sort of color. There isn't much light.
=> It appears that the British just sank the other ship and are ready to take prisoners.
=> The general who is on the white horse is wearing a black hat and has a rather determined expression on his face.
=> The picture was done in vivid colors. They stood out.
=> There isn't a lot of greenery. It's mostly just browns and darker colors.
=> There's a tall white horse that has a bridle and a saddle.
=> There are two ships both are destroyed. One of them has a pointy thing that I don't know what it is called. It looks like a dog head with its mouth open.
=> Above the ships, the sky is dark gray and orange and red and yellow.
=> On the other side of the picture, the sky has white clouds or smoke and blue.
=> In the water there's a small two row boats. One looks to be sinking.
=> On the other side away from the ships there are the British soldiers.
=> There's a cannon by the white horse.
=> The white horse has a fancy bridle and a fancy thing on its chest; and a nice-looking saddle.
=> The people are the Blue Coats on the side where the ships are on fire, and they look scared.
=> The people on shore were all kind of clustered up. They were wearing red coats, black boots, white shirts, tan pants, and black and gold hats.
The Red Cross Knight, 1793.
=> In the picture, there are three people standing on what appears to be a balcony. On either side there appears to be curtains framing the open area.
=> On the left-hand side of the picture, there is a man who is holding a shield in his left hand raised, and in his right hand he is holding a spear.
=> The knight is wearing black armor that is sort of shiny with a red cross on his chest.
=> He also has a sash that is the same color that is on his chest that is holding his sword.
=> On his head, he has a black helmet with a nice, big white plume.
=> On the right-hand side of the picture, there are two women. One of them is wearing a light-color dress. It looks like she is holding a cup or something. She looks like she is half-turning away, but still smiling.
=> The other lady next to her is wearing a darker greenish-bluish dress. She doesn't look as impressed by the knight. Her eyes are kind of raised upwards.
=> The knight looks like he's stepping on one of the dresses.
=> The room isn't exactly very bright; and the colors aren't super vivid; but it's still a nice picture.
=> It's a white stone balcony and beyond that it appears to be a lot of greenery.
=> The room is darker colors and there's a lot of red.
=> There are three people - two are women and one is a man.
=> The man is a knight with black armor and a red cross on his chest. He has a red sash that has gold trim on it that holds his sword.
=> One of the women is wearing a white dress with a cream-colored sash. In her left hand she is holding a goblet. It looks like it has a snake in it because it's kind of sticking it out. She kind of looks annoyed because the knight is stepping on her dress.
=> The other woman is wearing a dark blue dress with a light blue sash. Her right hand is on her friend's right arm; and her other hand appears to be holding a small book.
=> Behind the two women is a column with a red curtain that has gold designs on it.
=> They are standing on a balcony overlooking - maybe - a garden. You can see some trees and shrubbery. If you look closely, you can see the peak of a small mountain.
=> The woman with the blue dress - her eyes were kind of looking up; and the other one's eyes were looking directly at the knight.
=> You couldn't see the knight's expression because of his helmet.
=> His helmet has a big fluffy plume that kind of looks like hair.
Saul Reproved by Samuel for Not Obeying the Commandments of the Lord, 1798.
=> The sky is a slightly reddish color. In the left hand corner, there is a billowing track of black smoke that's going across from the right to left of the picture.
=> In the middle of the picture, there is a man with brown hair and a gold crown who has a rather ashamed look in his eyes.
=> On the left side of him, there's a soldier who is holding his arm and on the right side of him there's a white horse with a slightly frizzy mane who is being held by a man in a blue outfit who has no shoes.
=> The man in the blue outfit is holding the horse by the reins.
=> In front of the man with the crown (probably Saul) there's an older man with a longer, white beard. He is half-turned as if to reprimand Saul.
=>The older man has yellow shoes and the top of his robe is turned back and it's the same color as his shoes.
=> He has a stern look on his face and he's pointing at Saul.
=> In the background are soldiers who are holding long streaming red banners.
=> The horse is wearing a brightly-colored red bridle. On his back there is a saddle with cloth on either side.
=> The horse looks a bit skittish.
=> Saul has his head sort of turned down. You can see a little spot of color on his cheek.
=> There are four people and one horse.
=> There are some spears that are pointing up in the background. Above them there appears to be an angel, but Sophia pointed out that it wasn't an angel. It was a banner.
=> There's a man with a white beard. Underneath his robe is another robe, but it's blue. The robe is kind of turned back and it is a very bright yellow. His shoes are that same bright yellow. They look kind of funny.
=> There's a man wearing a red cloak who has a gold crown. He's looking to the side. Around his waist there's a belt with a sword in it.
=> There's a knight holding his arm and holding his spear.
=> To the left of him, holding the reins of the horse, there's another knight and he's wearing blue and is barefoot.
=> The horse has that kind of that strange thing that they wear for jousting. It looks he isn't wearing a saddle. It has that chest thing and a red bridle with gold lines along the edges.
=> The horse's mane is kind of sticking out.
=> The horse looks scared.
=> There are knights behind the king
=> There is black smoke in the left corner, and a little black smoke in the right corner.