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 (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.