John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on copper. National Portrait Gallery (Smithsonian), Washington, DC.

Uncle to John Hancock, to whom he left his fortune.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 242.7 x 150.9 cm (95 9/16 x 59 7/16 in). Harvard University Portrait Collection, Cambridge, MA.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 145.73 x 122.24 cm (57 3/8 x 48 1/8 in). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 50 x 40 in. (127.00 x 101.60 cm.). Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 50 x 40 in. (127 x 101.6 cm ). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 50 3/8 x 40 1/4 in. Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KA.

Known as Colonel James.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 50 1/2 x 40 5/8 in. Wichita Art Museum, Wichita, KA.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Pastel on laid paper; w:36.8 x h:44.5 cm. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 127 x 101.92 cm (50 x 40 1/8 in). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

by John Singleton Copley (1738—1815)

Oil on canvas; 126.05 x 100.33 cm (49 5/8 x 39 1/2 in. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA.

The Revolutionary leaders never intended to create an original and peculiar indigenous culture. Despite all their talk of American exceptionalism and American virtue in contrast with European corruption, they were seeking not to cut themselves off from Europe’s cultural heritage but to embrace it and in fact to fulfill it. It is a mistake to view America’s post-Revolutionary emulation of Europe as a legacy of helpless dependence passed on from colonial days. Americans imitated European styles and forms not because in their naïveté they could nothing else but because they wanted to.... Their revolution was very much an international affair, an attempt to fulfill the cosmopolitan dreams of the Enlightenment.

Gordon S. Wood
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)