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  • Posts Tagged ‘John Singleton Copley’


    Saturday, April 3rd, 2021

    The story of a fractured relationship between a portrait artist and his client lies behind the Knatchbull family portrait. Painted by John Singleton Copley in 1800 it was commissioned by Tory politician Sir Edward Knatchbull, who wanted a portrait of his second wife and ten children.  His first wife was to be included so Copley depicted her as one of a group of angels. When his second wife died two years later Knatchbull married again and wanted her included. Then his pregnant wife’s child had to be added. When after three years the portrait was finally unveiled he was mortified when people laughed openly at the spectacle of past and present wives in the same painting. He had it taken down and ordered Copley to paint over the angels. The fee was to be cut too, forcing a legal dispute which the artist won.  The oil sketch from the collection of Patricia Mountbatten sold at Sotheby’s for £88,200. Singleton Copley was an Irish American whose father was from Limerick and whose mother was from Clare.

    John Singleton Copley – The Knatchbull Family Portrait


    Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

    John Singleton Copley, The Fountaine Family, 1776 – Accepted under the Cultural Gifts Scheme by HM Government from David W Posnett OBE and allocated to Tate 2016

    Born in Boston of Irish parents John Singleton Copley is considered the greatest of American 18th century artists. His father was from Limerick, his mother was a Singleton from Co. Clare. Active in Boston from 1753 to 1774 he moved to England in 1775 and was elected at Royal Academcian. A Loyalist he never returned to the US after the American Declaration of Independence in 1776.

    His portrait of The Fountaine Family has just been acquired by The Tate through Arts Council England’s Cultural Gift Scheme, introduced in 2013 to encourage life time giving to UK public collections. It shows the family, wealthy members of the Norfolk gentry, standing in an elegant drawing room at Narford Hall, their ancestral home.
    The work complements three Copleys in the Tate Collection, Portrait of Mrs. Gill c177071, painted in America and The Death of Major Peirson (1781) and The Collapse of the Earl of Chatham (1779-80), both painted in Britain.