Henry Pelham

Feb 14, 1748 - 1806

Henry Pelham was an American painter, engraver, and cartographer active during the late 18th century. Pelham's many illuminating letters, especially to his half-brother John Singleton Copley, provide an important contemporary perspective of the events of the American Revolution.
Pelham was born in Boston, Massachusetts, where his father, Peter Pelham, a limner, engraver, and schoolmaster, had married Mary Copley, widow of Richard Copley and mother of John Singleton Copley. His father died in 1751. A small tobacco shop run by his mother provided support for the family until Copley brought prosperity to them all through his portrait painting. Their home was on Lindall Street, at the present-day intersection of Exchange Place and Congress Street. From there Henry attended the Boston Latin School. He is assumed to have studied drawing and painting with his half-brother. It was a likeness of Henry Pelham, then aged fifteen or sixteen, that featured in A Boy with a Flying Squirrel, a painting that was exhibited in London in 1766 and brought Copley his first fame abroad.
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