Published: June 15, 2004
“Process and Paradox: The Historical Pictures of John Singleton Copley” is on exhibit at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum through August 29.
Audiences will have an unprecedented opportunity to rediscover John Singleton Copley’s working methods through preparatory works such as drawings, oil sketches and a full-size unfinished canvas.
This exhibition of works by Copley reveal several of the artist’s most important history paintings from his long and much traveled career. Bringing many preparatory works together for the first time, “Process and Paradox” includes approximately 25 important pieces from the Harvard collection with several on loan for this rare gathering. “Charles I” (1782-95) and “Monmouth” (circa 1795) were discovered while undergoing treatment and cleaning at the Fogg’s Straus Center for Conservation.
Harvard University is noted for its colonial portraits by the Boston artist Copley (1738-1815), which he executed before he left for England in 1774. It is less known that the Fogg Art Museum also has a rich trove of preparatory works for the history paintings that he made in England during the second half of his career.
Curators and conservators collaborated to study Copley’s development from his early American portraits to the large-scale compositions of his English career. Their findings provide clues about his creative process and clarify the inherent paradoxes in the genre of history painting that he chose to pursue. This exhibition of approximately 25 works is organized by Kimberly Orcutt, assistant curator of American art at Harvard’s Fogg Art Museum.
The Fogg Art Museum is at 32 Quincy Street. For information, 617-495-9400 or artmuseums.Harvard.edu.
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