Museums and Art

Brooke Watson and the Shark, John Singleton Copley, 1778

Brooke Watson and the Shark, John Singleton Copley, 1778

Brooke Watson and the Shark - John Singleton Copley. 182.1x229.7

Outstanding American portrait painter and historical painter John Copley began his career in Boston. Only in 1775, in anticipation of the war for independence, he went abroad and soon with his family settled in London.

The picture shows the true incident that took place in 1749. A shark attacked a young British sailor in the harbor of Havana. She bit him caviar on one leg, and then the foot of the other leg. The artist depicted a tense moment of confrontation - will one of those in the boat have time to pierce the monster with a hook or will the unfortunate die? The entire pyramidal composition, the top of which is the handle of the raised hook, is permeated with movement.

The young man was saved, his wooden leg did not prevent him from living a happy life - he became the quartermaster general of the British Army in America, a member of parliament and even the Lord Mayor of London.

The canvas was commissioned by Copley to perpetuate the miraculous salvation, and then transferred to the school for boys "to serve as a visual lesson for the young" - as the inscription on the frame says.

Copley had never been to Havana and used engravings, with the help of which he quite accurately conveyed Moro Castle (on the right), the dome of the cathedral and the monastery towers. The work was a huge success and in many ways contributed to the popularity of the artist in England. For himself, he made an exact copy and version of the work, which had been kept in his workshop all his life.


Watch the video: BODIES AS RESISTANCE: Claiming the political act of being oneself. Sonya Renee Taylor. TEDxMarin (October 2021).