Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley

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Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley

Painting NameWatson and the Shark
Painter NameJohn Singleton Copley
Completion Date1778
Place of CreationEngland, London
Size182.1 cm × 229.7 cm (71 3⁄4 in × 90 1⁄2 in)
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art (Washington DC United States)

One of the famous American paintings depicting a real life event.

When 18th century artist, John Singleton Copley reached in London in 1774, Brook Watson commissioned him to portray his life event when he was attacked by shark during a swim in ocean. The attacked had happened in 1749, when Watson was of 14 years old.

Total of three versions were made of the event. Each with slightly different depiction method. The represented one is a romanticized version which hides the cut off leg of Watson in the depth of water. During the attack, shark had bitten off his one leg.

As it would be expected for such scenes, everyone on the boat is frightened and is helping to save Watson. Watson was saved eventually but he had to live with only one leg for the rest of his life.


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