Collection: John Singleton Copley

Born to Irish immigrants, John Singleton Copley (1738-1815) became America's first portrait artist, painting leading figures of the Revolutionary period, most notably Paul Revere and John Hancock. Much like a photographer of record in modern times, Copley portraits captured not only a remarkable likeness to his subjects but also their character. Perhaps Copley's greatest influence as an artist was his stepfather, Peter Pelham, a well-known engraver, with whom Copley likely trained as a youth. The impact of this early exposure to painting and printmaking is most evident in Copley's mastery of dramatic contrasts of light and dark in his portraits.