George John Spencer, 2nd Earl Spencer (1758-1834) politician and book collector
- About the work
About the artist
John Singleton Copley was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Irish immigrants, who owned a tobacco shop. His father died when he was a young and his mother later married English artist and schoolteacher Peter Pelham. Pelham may have introduced Copley to Scottish émigré and artist John Smibert, whose studio he visited regularly. In 1766, Copley sent the painting ‘Boy with a Squirrel’ to the Society of Artists in London, where it was praised by Benjamin West. In 1769, he married Susannah Farnham, with whom he had five children. Encouraged by West, Copley relocated to London in 1774, living in Soho and later in Westminster. He had a moderately successful career in London, painting mainly history and portrait subjects. He died aged 77.