Photo © Photo by Michael Gould
Identification and Creation
Object Number
John Singleton Copley, American (Boston, MA 1738 - 1815 London, England)
Nicholas Boylston (1716 - 1771)
Frame by John Welch
Nicholas Boylston (1716-1771)
Work Type
Creation Place: North America, United States, Massachusetts, Boston
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Oil on canvas
238.8 x 144.8 cm (94 x 57 in.)
framed: 281.9 x 179.1 x 16.5 cm (111 x 70 1/2 x 6 1/2 in.)
Commissioned by the Harvard Corporation, 1773
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard University Portrait Collection, Painted at the request of the Harvard Corporation, 1773
Accession Year
Object Number
European and American Art
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This is a copy after H90 (Copley, Nicholas Boylston, 1767)
Publication History

Henry T. Tuckerman, Book of the Artists: American Artist Life, Comprising Biographical and Critical Sketches of American Artists, Preceded by an Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Art in America, Putnam (New York, NY, 1867), p. 72

Augustus Thorndyke Perkins, A Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley, J. R. Osgood & Company (Boston, MA, 1873), p. 38

William Howe Downes, "Boston Painters and Paintings, Part I: The Pre-Copleyites, Copley, Trumbull", The Atlantic Monthly (Boston, MA, July 1888), vol. 62 no. 369, pp. 89-98., p. 93

William Garrott Brown, A List of Portraits in the Various Buildings of Harvard University, Harvard University Library (Cambridge, MA, 1898), p. 9

Frank William Bayley, A Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley, The Garden Press, W. B. Libby (Boston, MA, 1910), pp. 21-22

Frank William Bayley, The Life and Works of John Singleton Copley: Founded on the Work of Augustus Thorndike Perkins, The Taylor Press (Boston, MA, 1915), pp. 64-65

Cuthbert Lee, Early American Portrait Painters: The Fourteen Principal Earliest Native-born Painters, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT, 1929), p. 74

Laura M. Huntsinger, Harvard Portraits: A Catalogue of Portrait Paintings at Harvard University, ed. Alan Burroughs, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1936), pp. 23-24

Barbara N. Parker and Anne Bolling Wheeler, John Singleton Copley: American Portraits in Oil, Pastel and Miniature, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA, 1938), pp. 44-45

Historical Records Survey, Division of Professional and Service Projects, Works Progress Administration, American Portraits, 1620-1825, found in Massachusetts, Volumes 1 and 2, Historical Records Survey (Boston, MA, 1939), p. 47, cat. 250

Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1966), vol. 1, pp. 43-44, 54-55, 90, 210, pl. 330

Louise Todd Ambler, Early Science at Harvard: Innovators and Their Instruments, 1765 - 1865, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, December 1969-January 1970), pp. 3, 74, cat. 3

Alison Shepherd Lewis, "John Singleton Copley and American Full-Length Portraits: The Project of Harvard Hall" (1969), Unpublished, pp. 13-14, 17

Louise Todd Ambler and Kenyon Castle Bolton, III, "American Painting at Harvard", Antiques (New York, NY, November 1972), vol. 102, no. 5, pp. 876-883, p. 876

Nina Fletcher Little, "Floor Coverings", American Art Journal (May 1975), vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 107-117, p. 112, ill.

Charles Montgomery and Patricia E. Kane, American Art: 1750-1800, Towards Independence, exh. cat., Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, CT, 1976), p. 97, fig. 48

Louise Todd Ambler, "Faces from Harvard's Past", Harvard Magazine (Cambridge, MA, March-April 1978), Vol. 80, pp. 33-41, p. 34, ill.

Robert F. Perkins, Jr. and William J. Gavin, III, Boston Athenaeum Art Exhibition Index, 1827-1874, The Library of the Boston Athenaeum (Boston, MA, 1980), p. 39

Sandra Grindlay, "Harvard's Portraits: An American Treasure", Harvard University Art Museums Review (Fall 1992), vol. II, no. 1, pp. 6-7, p. 6

Carrie Rebora and Paul J. Staiti, John Singleton Copley in America, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1995), pp. 4, 93, 152, 225-226, fig. 135

Marc Giudicelli, "J.S. Copley's Blues: A Case of Blanching" (thesis (certificate in conservation), Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 2000), Unpublished, pp. 1-47 passim

Phyllis Whitman Hunter, Purchasing Identity in the Atlantic World: Massachusetts Merchants, 1670-1780, Cornell University Press (Ithaca and London, 2001), p. 150, fig. 9

Margaret Pokorny, ed., Copley Square: The Story of Boston's Art Square, brochure, Friends of Copley Square (Boston, MA, 2002), p. 37, ill.

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press (U.S.) and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), pp. 23, 143-144, 426, cat. 89, ill.

Ethan Lasser, "A Classroom in the Age of Enlightenment", The Magazine Antiques (New York, NY, 2017), Fig. 3

"A Clearer View of the Collections", Index Magazine, Harvard Art Museums (December 5, 2017),, accessed December 12, 2017

Jonathan Shaw and Jennifer Carling, "The Lost Museum: Teachings of the Philosophy Chamber, Recreated", Harvard Magazine (Cambridge, MA, 2017), pp. 42-49, p. 42

Ethan Lasser, ed., The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, exh. cat., Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2017), p. 85, Plate 21; p. 190 (detail) and p. 198 in Whitney Barlow Robles's "Flatness"

Exhibition History

Boston Athenaeum First Exhibition of Paintings, 1827, Boston Athenaeum, Boston, 01/01/1827 - 12/31/1827

Early Science at Harvard, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 12/18/1969 - 02/01/1970

The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 05/19/2017 - 12/31/2017; The Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, 04/17/2018 - 07/15/2018

Related Works

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