Copley: Metropolitan Opens Bicentennial Show

The New York Times, December 27, 1936

Updated: October 04, 2012

This article by renowned New York Times art critic Edward Alden Jewell focuses on 18th century painter John Singleton Copley and his reasons for leaving the USA for Europe – the supposed “goal of all ambitious American artists” at that time. Concluding that the subsequent Europeanization of Copley’s art was a weakening rather than a strengthening of his career as a painter, the article illustrates the American ambition during the 1930s to achieve cultural independence from Europe.  

“Yonder, Copley deteriorated as an artist because, tearing his roots out of the native environment, he strove for ideals that were his but at second hand. Suaver and often more brilliant his paintings became; the grand, fresh, vigorous original impulse sickened and died. Even Sir Joshua Reynolds, so enthusiastic in the beginning, and so confident that the American ought to ‘Europeanize’ his style, seemed to recognize that a grave mistake had been made."

Article available through ProQuest (subscription required)

Jewell, Edward Alden. "COPLEY: Metropolitan Open Bicentennial Show."  New York Times, Dec. 27, 1936, p. X9.

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