John Adams (1735-1826)
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
H74
People
John Singleton Copley, American (Boston, MA 1738 - 1815 London, England)
John Adams ( 1735 - 1826)
Title
John Adams (1735-1826)
Classification
Paintings
Work Type
painting
Date
1783
Places
Creation Place: Europe, United Kingdom, England, London
Culture
American
Location
Level 2, Room 2410, South Arcade
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
238.1 x 147 cm (93 3/4 x 57 7/8 in.)
frame: 270.5 x 178.4 x 10.2 cm (106 1/2 x 70 1/4 x 4 in.)
Inscriptions and Marks
  • inscription: in artist's hand: Inscription, on map: ATLAN/OCE
Provenance
Commissioned by the sitter; retained by the artist; to Adams family; their loan to Ward Nicholas Boylston.

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard University Portrait Collection, Bequest of Ward Nicholas Boylston to Harvard College, 1828
Object Number
H74
Division
European and American Art
Contact
am_europeanamerican@harvard.edu
Publication History

Abigail Adams, Letters of Mrs. Adams, the Wife of John Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, C. C. Little & J. Brown (Boston, MA, 1840), v. 2, p. 31

W. H. Bartlett and B. B. Woodward, The History of the United States of North America from the Discovery of the Western World to the Present Day, G. Virtue & Co. (New York, NY, 1856), vol. II, p. 191

Henry T. Tuckerman, Book of the Artists: American Artist Life, Comprising Biographical and Critical Sketches of American Artists, Preceded by an Historical Account of the Rise and Progress of Art in America, Putnam (New York, NY, 1867), p. 72

Augustus Thorndyke Perkins, A Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley, J. R. Osgood & Company (Boston, MA, 1873), p. 27

United States Centennial Commission, International Exhibition, 1876, Official Catalogue, Art Gallery and Annexes, exh. cat., John R. Nagle & Co. (Philadelphia, PA, 1876), p. 19, cat. 85

J.S. Ingram, The Centennial Exposition, Hubbard Bros. (Philadelphia, PA, 1876), pp. 373-374

Boston Art Club, Massachusetts Centennial Art Exhibition, exh. cat. (Boston, MA, 1876), p. 11, cat. 141

Martha Babcock Amory, The Domestic and Artistic Life of John Singleton Copley, R.A., Houghton Mifflin Company (Boston, MA, 1882), pp. 87-91, 210, 328, 470

Justin Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, Houghton Mifflin Company (Boston, MA, 1884 - 1889), p. 36

Clarence Winthrop Bowen, ed., History of the Centennial Celebration of the Inauguration of George Washington, D. Appleton & Co. (New York, NY, 1892), p. 423

William Garrott Brown, A List of Portraits in the Various Buildings of Harvard University, Harvard University Library (Cambridge, MA, 1898), p. 5

Frank William Bayley, A Sketch of the Life and a List of Some of the Works of John Singleton Copley, The Garden Press, W. B. Libby (Boston, MA, 1910), p. 9

Worthington Chauncey Ford, ed., Writings of John Quincy Adams, Greenwood Press (New York, NY, 1913-1917), pp. 70-71

Letters and Papers of John Singleton Copley and Henry Pelham, Kennedy Galleries, Inc. (New York, 1914 reprint), p. 374

Frank William Bayley, The Life and Works of John Singleton Copley: Founded on the Work of Augustus Thorndike Perkins, The Taylor Press (Boston, MA, 1915), pp. 32, 38

Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1927), p. 56

Cuthbert Lee, Early American Portrait Painters: The Fourteen Principal Earliest Native-born Painters, Yale University Press (U.S.) (New Haven, CT, 1929), p. 72

Loan Exhibition of One Hundred Colonial Portraits, exh. cat., Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA, 1930), ill. p. 1

Paintings of John Singleton Copley, exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1936), p. 9, pl. 41

Laura M. Huntsinger, Harvard Portraits: A Catalogue of Portrait Paintings at Harvard University, ed. Alan Burroughs, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1936), p. 7

Fogg Art Museum Handbook, Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1936), ill. p. 107

Historical Records Survey, Division of Professional and Service Projects, Works Progress Administration, American Portraits, 1620-1825, found in Massachusetts, Volumes 1 and 2, Historical Records Survey (Boston, MA, 1939), p. 3, cat. 12

Survey of American Painting, exh. cat., Carnegie Institute (Pittsburgh, PA, 1940), cat. 63

Richard Brandon Morris, The Life History of the United States: Vol. 2: The Making of a Nation: 1775-1789, Time Inc. (New York, NY, 1963), vol. 2, p. 47

H.C. Warwick and Henry C. Pitz, Early American Dress, B. Blom (New York, NY, 1965), pl. 11

Allan Nevins and Henry Steele Commager, A Short History of the United States, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (New York, NY, 1966), pl. III

Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1966), vol. 2, pp. 300, 388, 411, pl. 438

Andrew Oliver, Portraits of John and Abigail Adams, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1967), pp. 23-38, cat. 18, figs. 9, 10

Elizabeth Ripley, Copley: A Biography, J. B. Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA, 1967), pp. 54-55, ill.

Robert Plate, John Singleton Copley: America's First Great Artist, David McKay (New York, NY, 1969), pp. 128-129

William Dunlap, History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States, Dover Publications Inc. (New York, 1969), vol. I, p. 120

Cornelius C. Vermeule, III, Numismatic Art in America (Cambridge, MA, 1971), pp. 4-5, fig. I

Kenyon Castle Bolton, III, Peter G. Huenink, Earl A. Powell III, Harry Z. Rand, and Nanette C. Sexton, American Art at Harvard, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1972), cat. 9, ill.

John J. Reardon, Edmund Randolph: A Biography, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. (New York and London, 1974), ill. n.p.

Thomas Fleming, 1776: Year of Illusions, W. W. Norton & Company (New York, 1975), ill. n.p. detail

Louise Todd Ambler, Benjamin Franklin: A Perspective, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 1975), pp. 95, 141, no. 82, ill. p. 95

Peter Shaw, The Character of John Adams, The University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC, 1976), frontispiece, fig. 2, opp. p. 132

Evelyn Branson, American History for Today, Ginn & Company (Lexington, MA, 1977), p.

Stanley J. Idzerda, ed., Lafayette in the Age of the American Revolution: Selected Letters and Papers, Cornell University Press (Ithaca, NY, 1980), v. 5, ill. p. 228

Olivier Bernier, The Eighteenth-Century Woman, Doubleday & Co. (Garden City, NY, 1981), ill. p. 97

Susan Mary Alsop, Yankees at the Court: The First Americans in Paris, Doubleday & Co. (New York, NY, 1982), ill. between pp. 176-177

James G. Barber and Frederick S. Voss, Blessed are the Peacemakers: A Commemoration of the 200th Anniversary of the Treaty of Paris, exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian Institution Press (Washington, D.C., 1983), pp. 22-23

William J. Shank, "John Singleton Copley's Portraits: A Technical Study of Three Representative Examples", Journal of the American Institute for Conservation (Washington, D.C., 1984), vol. 23, pp. 130-152, p. 134

Richard B. Bernstein and Kym S. Rice, "Are We To Be a Nation?": The Making of the Constitution, exh. cat., Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1987), pl. 9

Richard B. Bernstein and Kym S. Rice, Are We To Be a Nation?: The Making of the Constitution, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 1987), pl. IX

Margaret Christman, The First Federal Congress 1789-1791, exh. cat., National Portrait Gallery (Washington, D.C, 1989), pp. 216-218, ill. p. 217

Edith Gelles, Portia: The World of Abigail Adams, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN, 1992), ill. n.p.

Dickran Tashjian, "The Artlessness of American Culture", Making America: The Society & Culture of the United States, ed. Luther S. Luedtke, The University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill & London, 1992), pp. 162-175, p. 171, fig. 8.1

Laura Fecych Sprague, The Legacy of James Bowdoin III, exh. cat., Bowdoin College Museum of Art (Brunswick, ME, 1994), pp.67-68, fig 19

John Ferling, John Adams: A Life, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN, 1995), frontispiece, pp. 275, 277

Emily Ballew Neff, ed., John Singleton Copley in England, exh. cat., The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX, 1995), p. 170, fig. 80

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr., "An American Despite Himself", John Singleton Copley, ed. Carrie Rebora Barratt, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY, 1995-1996), p. 79

Conor Cruise O'Brien, The Long Affair: Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800, The University of Chicago Press (Chicago & London, 1996), ill. opp. p. 9

Natalie Bober, Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY, 1998), ill. p. 126

Philip B. Kunhardt and Peter W. Kunhardt, The American President, Riverhead Books (New York, 1999), p. 134, ill.

James McPherson, "To the Best of My Ability": The American Presidents, Dorling Kindersley Limited (New York, 2000), ill. p. 27 (detail)

Russell Freedman, Give Me Liberty! The Story of the Declaration of Independence, Holiday House Inc. (New York, 2000), ill. p. 21

David McCullough, John Adams, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY, 2001), pp. 297-298, ill. opp. p. 145

Margaret Pokorny, ed., Copley Square: The Story of Boston's Art Square, brochure, Friends of Copley Square (Boston, MA, 2002), p. 36, ill.

Steven C. Bullock, The American Revolution: A History in Documents, Oxford University Press (NY) (New York, 2003), ill. p. 113

Jacqueline Jones, Created Equal: A Social and Political History of the United States , Longman Publishers (New York, NY, 2003), ill. p. 238

Gail Feigenbaum, ed., Jefferson's America & Napoleon's France, exh. cat., New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, 2003), p. 154, cat. 133

John T. Bethell, Richard M. Hunt, and Robert Shenton, Harvard A to Z, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA, 2004), p. 277

Kimberly Orcutt, Process and Paradox: The Historical Pictures of John Singleton Copley, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 2004), pp. 3, 12, ill. p. 5

James Grant, John Adams: Party of One, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY, 2005), pl.

Eric Stockdale, 'Tis Treason, My Good Man!: Four Revolutionary Presidents and a Piccadilly Bookshop, Oak Knoll Press and British Library (London, England, 2005), ill. p. 136

Stacey Bredhoff, Eyewitness: American Originals from the National Archives, The Foundation for the National Archives (Washington, DC, 2006), ill. p. 56

Gaye Wilson, "'Behold me at length on the vaunted scene of Europe': Thomas Jefferson and the Creation of an American Image Abroad", Old World, New World: America and Europe in the Age of Jefferson, ed. Leonard J. Sadosky, Peter Nicolaisen, Peter S. Onuf, and Andrew J. O'Shaughnessy, University of Virginia Press (Charlottesville and London, 2010), pp. 155-178, pp. 171-174, fig. 8

C. James Taylor, Papers of John Adams, Series III, General Correspondence and Other Papers of the Adams Statesmen (Cambridge, MA, 2010), pp. xiii-xiv, 356, fig. 7

Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr. and Melissa Renn, American Paintings at Harvard, Volume One: Paintings, Watercolors, and Pastels by Artists Born before 1826, Yale University Press and Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge and New Haven, 2014), pp. 23, 148-150, 463, cat. 93, ill.

Theodore Bolton and Henry Lorin Binsse, "John Singleton Copley", The Antiquarian (New York, NY, December 1930), pp. 116-118., p. 116

Royal Cortissoz, "The Art of Copley at the Metropolitan", New York Herald Tribune (New York, NY, December 27, 1936), sec. 7, p. 8, p. 8

Sandra Grindlay, "Harvard's Portraits: An American Treasure", Harvard University Art Museums Review (Fall 1992), vol. II, no. 1, pp. 6-7, p. 6

"200th Birthday of Quincy, Mass.", Yankee (Dublin, NH, February 1992)

"The Fine Arts: United States Section--Painting in Oil", Philadelphia Evening Bulletin (Philadelphia, PA, June 23, 1876), p. 1, p. 1

Edwin S. Gaustad, "Disciples of Reason", Christian History (Worcester, PA, May 1, 1996), vol. 15, issue 2, p. 28, ill. p. 28

"The Crimson Party", Harvard Magazine (November-December 2000), p. 120., p. 120, ill.

Exhibition History

Unidentified Exhibition, St. Petersburg, 1811, Unknown Venue, St. Petersburg, 01/01/1811 - 12/31/1811

Boston Athenaeum Second Exhibition of Paintings, 1828, Boston Athenaeum, Boston, 05/01/1828 - 12/31/1828

Massachusetts Centennial Art Exhibition, Boston Art Club, Boston, 04/01/1876 - 04/30/1876

International Exhibition, Philadelphia, 1876, Philadelphia, PA, 05/10/1876 - 11/10/1876

Unidentified Exhibition, MFA Boston, 1930, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 05/20/1930 - 12/31/1930

Loan Exhibition of One Hundred Colonial Portraits: Massachusetts Bay Colony Tercentenary, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 06/19/1930 - 09/21/1930

The Paintings of John Singleton Copley, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 12/22/1936 - 02/14/1937

Survey of American Painting, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, 10/24/1940 - 12/15/1940

American Art at Harvard, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/19/1972 - 06/18/1972

Benjamin Franklin: A Perspective, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 04/17/1975 - 09/22/1975

Blessed are the Peacemakers, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, 09/03/1983 - 11/27/1983

"Are We To Be A Nation?" The Making of the Federal Constitution, New York Public Library, New York, 04/16/1987 - 09/19/1987

The First Federal Congress, 1789-1791, National Portrait Gallery, Washington, 03/02/1989 - 07/23/1989

The Legacy of James Bowdoin III, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, 10/15/1993 - 06/26/1994

Jefferson's America & Napoleon's France, New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, 04/12/2001 - 08/31/2003

Process and Paradox: The Historical Pictures of John Singleton Copley, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 05/08/2004 - 08/29/2004

Special installation, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston, 10/01/2004 - 10/01/2005

One year loan of John Singleton Copley, John Adams (1735 - 1826) to AAAS, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston, 10/01/2005 - 10/01/2006

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

4 - Best. Object is extensively researched, well described and information is vetted