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Painting Soldiers, Spies and Patriots: John Singleton Copley

Painting Soldiers, Spies and Patriots: John Singleton Copley

Join us on Monday, September 10, 2018 for a Revolutionary Lecture Series

Did you know that the income which Copley earned by painting in the 1760s was extraordinary for his town and time? It had promoted the son of a needy tobacconist into the local aristocracy. Copley had already bought land on the west side of Beacon Hill extending down to the Charles River. The newly married Copleys, who would have six children, moved into “a solitary house in Boston, on Beacon Hill, chosen with his keen perception of picturesque beauty.”

Join us on Monday, September 10th, 2018 as we welcome art historian Jaan Ingle Troltenier as she presents a biograph of John Singleton Copley starting at 6pm.

The artistic opportunities of the home and town in which Copley grew to manhood should be emphasized because he himself, as well as some of his biographers taking him too literally, have made much of the bleakness of his early surroundings.

The artist was only fifteen when (it is believed) he painted the portrait of the Rev. William Welsteed, minister of the Brick Church in Long Lane, a work which, following Peter Pelham’s practise, Copley personally engraved to get the benefit from the sale of prints. No other engraving has been attributed to Copley. A self-portrait, undated, depicting a boy of about seventeen in broken straw hat, and a painting of Mars, Venus and Vulcan, signed and dated 1754, disclose crudities of execution which do not obscure the decorative intent and documentary value of the works. Such painting would obviously advertise itself anywhere. Without going after business, for his letters do not indicate that he was ever aggressive or pushy, Copley was started as a professional portrait-painter long before he was of age.

A Boy with a Squirrel Copley’s fame was established in England by the exhibition in 1766 of A Boy with a Squirrel, which depicted his half-brother, Henry Pelham, seated at a table and playing with a pet squirrel. This picture, which made the young Boston painter a Fellow of the Society of Artists of Great Britain by vote on September 3, 1766, had been painted the preceding year. Copley’s letter of September 3, 1765, to Capt. R. G. Bruce, of the John and Sukey, reveals that it was taken to England as a personal favor in the luggage of Roger Hale, surveyor of the port of London.



Our lectures have proved to be very popular and we strongly recommend that you book your seat now. 

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The all inclusive admission price is $49 per person which includes the 18th century American Fare Buffet, all soft beverages and coffee, family style sweets during the question and answer session, all tax and gratuities, the lecture, and a donation to help support the Paoli Battlefield Historical Park. Your admission also includes a raffle ticket for a chance to win a night’s stay at the General Warren Inne. There will be one winner drawn at each lecture.


Jaan Ingle Troltenier Jaan Ingle Troltenier is a popular instructor at Lifelong Learning Institutes at Immaculata University and Widener University, where she lectures in history and art history. She is a docent with Art Goes to School, an elementary school art history program. In addition, she gives programs in art history at local libraries, roundtables in the region, and high schools. As part of these programs she impersonates various artists and historical figures, both real and fictional. Jaan holds degrees in Spanish and in Latin, as well as in Linguistics

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