John Singleton Copley

Hugh Montgomerie, 12th Earl of Eglinton, 1739 - 1819. Soldier; Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire (About 1780)

About this artwork

In this large portrait by the American artist John Singleton Copley, the imposing figure of Hugh Montgomerie strides out, with sword drawn, whilst a battle rages behind him. Although painted two decades later, this portrait commemorates the sitter's service in America during the French and Indian War. Montgomerie is shown in the dress of the 77th Highlanders, the unit in which he served in America. In the background, the Highlanders have the upper hand over the falling Cherokee Indians, suggesting that the picture records their victory over the Cherokees at either Etchocy in 1760 or at War-Women's Creek in 1761. From 1780 to 1796, he sat intermittently as MP for Ayrshire.

John Singleton Copley

John Singleton Copley

John Singleton Copley was born in Boston, the son of Irish immigrants. His step-father, Peter Pelham, was a portrait painter and engraver and, after Pelham's death in 1752, Copley continued his artistic education through books and prints. A visiting English artist, Joseph Blackburn, helped develop his style and Copley emerged as New England's best portrait painter, sending work for exhibition in London from 1766. In 1774 Copley left America for good and settled in London after spending a year in Italy. As well running a busy portrait studio, Copley produced ambitious history paintings, the most successful of which take dramatic contemporary events as their subject.