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John Singleton Copley born in Boston Massachusetts in 1738 was considered one of the greatest American masters at his death in 1815 and is to this day Copley studied with his stepfather Peter Pelham and frequented the studios of John Smibert and Robert Feke By the age of twenty Copley was considered to be a successful portrait painter with a mature style full of brilliance and clarity He practiced in New York City Philadelphia and his hometown of Boston before visiting Italy and eventually settling in London England John Singleton Copleys interpretation of a horrifying disaster in Brooke Watson and the Shark stands out as a fantastic romanticized horror painting Watson and the Shark an oil on canvas painting was completed in 1778 The painting stands 7175 inches high and 90 inches wide The romantic painting was donated by the Ferdinand Lammot Belin Fund to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC Watson and the Shark portrays a devastating event in the life of Brooke Watson In the Bahamas at the age of fourteen British-born Watson was out on a fishing expedition According to Brooke he fell overboard and was subsequently attacked by an enormous shark With the help of the crew Watson narrowly escaped the certain death that awaited He did not however escape unscathed Brooke Watson was bitten in the leg by the man-eating shark John Singleton Copley makes great use of line form perspective and space in his work The audience is drawn in and captivated by the motion of the crew mates and the shark The wind-blown hair and faces of desperation of the crew members emphasize the horror of the shark who seems to be lunging angrily forward to the helpless Watson The viewers focus quickly becomes the mate thrusting his harpoon at the incredibly large shark The West-Indian crewman throwing Watson a rope as well as the other crew members reaching for Watson create an
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