John Singleton Copley: American Portraits in Oil, Pastel, and Miniature

John Singleton Copley: American Portraits in Oil, Pastel, and Miniature

John Singleton Copley: American Portraits in Oil, Pastel, and Miniature

John Singleton Copley: American Portraits in Oil, Pastel, and Miniature

Excerpt

American painting, judged according to international artistic standards, can hardly be said to have commanded much attention until recently. This lack of knowledge even by intelligent foreigners of our art is comprehensible when one adopts this standard of comparison. In this country as well we have been slow to recognize our artistic potentialities. The reason for this has been largely a material and practical one; for with this vast nation to settle, develop, and industrialize, our forebears did not have much time to devote to matters of art. While our country has grown with tremendous rapidity, it still lacks the cultural and artistic heritage of older nations. In the past we have been too ready to imitate European fashions, and it is only in the last half century that we have become conscious of our artistic past and of the need for a native expression of our own. Looking back in retrospect, certain artists stand out above others as having a particularly American quality in their work. Conspicuous among these is John Singleton Copley, a pioneer in American realism.

In commemoration of the two-hundredth anniversary of Copley's birth in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts has organized an exhibition of paintings, pastels, miniatures and drawings by the artist. While the exhibition embraces the entire work of Copley, special emphasis has been made on his paintings done in America before his departure for England in 1774, for they illustrate better than his English work the real personality of the artist.

Copley's rise to a position as America's foremost portrait painter of the colonial period is somewhat of an anomaly . . .

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