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John Singleton Copley (1738-1815)
John Singleton Copley was an American artist of the colonial period, famous for his portraits of important figures in colonial New England. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, his portraits were innovative in that they tended to portray their subjects with artifacts that were indicative of their lives. Copley demonstrated a genius for rendering surface textures and capturing emotional immediacy.
Daniel Rea
Colonel George Lewis
Head of a Negro
Hugh Hall
Nathaniel Allen
Samuel Adams


Hugh Hall


Pastel on off-white laid paper, mounted on canvas

15 15/16 x 13 3/16 in. (40.5 x 33.5 cm)

The subject of this powerful study is Hugh Hall, a distiller, son of the governor of Barbados, and a Boston merchant of great affluence. The portrait reveals the young Copley's earliest attempt to master the difficult medium of pastel crayons. This is not an effortless performance. The picture bears the scars of his struggle to bend an obdurate medium to his will, but what the picture lacks in elegance it more than makes up in forcefulness. This portrait of Hugh Hall is probably Copley's first pastel.

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Comments about Copley sorted by author.

Author Date Subject
John Singleton CopleyNov 06, 2005 17:30Royal Academy of Art

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