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John Singleton Copley learned to paint and engrave in the shop of his stepfather, Henry Pelham. Between 1753, the year of Copley's first works, and 1774, the year he left America for London, he became eighteenth-century Boston's preeminent portrait painter. Copley painted this portrait of Hancock soon after the 1768 seizure of one of his ships, the Liberty. The riot that followed transformed the wealthy Boston merchant into a patriotic victim of English oppression.
Provenance: Bequest of Henry Lee Shattuck, 1971.