Tuesday, January 19

The Cradle of Liberty

I have the Bay State on my mind today.

Historic Map of Boston
The University of Texas Map Collection

Samuel Adams is one of my favorite historical figures and I love this portrait of him pointing at the Massachusetts Charter:

Samuel Adams
by John Singleton Copley c. 1772
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

He looks very confident and I like how intensely he has his fist wrapped around the papers in his right hand. It looks like he just pounded on the table yelling loudly, "Among the natural rights of the Colonists are these: First, a right to life; Secondly, to liberty; Thirdly, to property; together with the right to support and defend them in the best manner they can."

Statue of Samuel Adams at Faneuil Hall
By Anne Whitney, 1876

Boston is home to an extraordinary collection of statues and paintings of America's founders. Sam Adams' portrait painted by John Singleton Copley resides in the Museum of Fine Arts and is truly a national treasure. So is this one, also by Copley:

Paul Revere
by John Singleton Copley c. 1768-1770
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts

Copely was a friend of fellow Boston artist Gilbert Stuart. He even sat for Stuart, which is think is so cool:

John Singleton Copley
Painted by Gilbert Stuart c.1784
National Portrait Gallery, London, England

Together the pair really cornered the market on portraits of American founders and presidents and we owe them a great deal of thanks. They captured American history with paint and gave us great faces to put with great names.

(PS. It's a bit ironic because Copley was kind of a Loyalist...but that's a lesson for another day.)


  1. Great post! I always wondered about the talent behind those portraits.

  2. Ha! You know they're all smiling today.

  3. Also ironic that Samuel Adams, whose namesake lives on through "America's World Class Beer", was quite the puritan and would not have appreciated the association with the brewed libation

  4. I thought so too Codi and I was surprised to learn this but Samuel Adams actually was a brewer! He inherited the family brewery when his father (also named Sam) passed away. However, his brewery was unsuccessful and the current "Sam Adams" has no affiliation with the Adam's family.

  5. No way! Well those bostonian tour guides need to get their facts straight...sorry!!

  6. Copley is a timeless artist. Have you ever noticed how his portrait of Sam Adams bears a striking resemblance to Jack Black?