Watson and the Shark

John Singleton Copley1778

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Washington, DC, United States


  • Title: Watson and the Shark
  • Creator: John Singleton Copley
  • Date Created: 1778
  • Physical Dimensions: overall: 182.1 x 229.7 cm (71 11/16 x 90 7/16 in.) framed: 241.3 x 264.2 x 10.1 cm (95 x 104 x 4 in.)
  • Provenance: Brook Watson [1735-1807], London and East Sheen, Surrey; bequeathed to Christ's Hospital, London;[1] purchased 1963 by NGA. [1] Watson's will, dated 12 August 1803, states: "I give and bequeath my Picture painted by Mr. Copley which represents the accident by which I lost my Leg in the Harbour of the Havannah in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty Nine to the Governors of Christs Hospital to be delivered to them immediately after the Decease of my Wife Helen Watson or before if she shall think proper so to do hoping the said worthy Governors will receive the same as a testimony of the high estimation in which I hold that most Excellent Charity and that they will allow it to be hung up in the Hall of their Hospital as holding out a most usefull Lesson to Youth." (Public Record Office, London; copy, NGA curatorial file). The school's committee of almoners voted 28 September 1819 to accept the painting and place it in the great hall (minutes of a meeting of the Board of Almoners, Christ's Hospital, 28 September 1819; extract, NGA curatorial file). The hospital was founded in London in 1553 and was moved to Horsham, Essex, in 1902; _Encyclopaedia Britannica_ (11th ed., New York, 1910), 6: 295-296.
  • Medium: oil on canvas

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