Although largely self-taught and without benefit of European study, John Singleton Copley invented a powerfully convincing style of portraiture that summarized the expansive ambitions and self-confidence of colonial American society on the brink of revolution. His mature style is marked by a somber richness of color, dramatic lighting, exacting observation, and a virtuoso ability to realize in paint both the physical and psychological being of the sitter.
John Singleton Copley (July 3, 1738 – September 9, 1815) was an Anglo-American painter, active in both colonial America and England. He was probably born in Boston, Massachusetts, to Richard and Mary Singleton Copley, both Anglo-Irish. After becoming well-established as a portrait painter of the wealthy in colonial New England, he moved to London in 1774, never returning to America. In London, he met considerable success as a portraitist for the next two decades, and also painted a number of large history paintings, which were innovative in their readiness to depict modern subjects and modern dress. His later years were less successful, and he died heavily in debt. He was father of John Copley, 1st Baron Lyndhurst.