John Codman III (1755–1803)
John Singleton Copley (1738–1815)
Torquay, Devon, England, c. 1800
Oil on canvas
45 ½ x 37 ½ in.
Copley was America’s leading portraitist before the American Revolution. In 1774, he moved to London and embraced historical subjects for their prestige, yet continued to earn his living painting portraits. He was the obvious choice to paint John Codman III of Boston, having already portrayed Codman’s father and brother. Copley created this flattering likeness of the prosperous merchant in the English port of Torquay. The hilly landscape and white house do not resemble Torquay, so perhaps they are Copley’s idealization of the Codman Estate in Lincoln, Massachusetts, now an Historic New England property, which he once visited in the 1760s.