John Singleton Copley Portrait: Daniel Crommelin Verplanck (1771)

Figure 1.-- One the basis of the success of his portrait "Boy with a Squirrel", Copley moved to England, in 1774 just as the Revolutionary War was beginning. It is one of Copley's most notable American portraits (figure 2). The boy is 9 years old Daniel Crommelin Verplanck. He seems extremely self-assured, dressed in adult clothing, as was the custom, and gazing directly at the viewer with the same bright, sharp eyes as those of the squirrel.

John Singleton Copley painted three portrairs for the Verplanck family, like mant New Yorkers at the time--of Dutch ancestry. The portrait of 9-year old Daniel is the most most ambitious undertaking of the set. It is also probably one of the best known portraits of a colonil boy. The portraits Copley painted of Daniel's father, Samuel, and his uncle Gulian are much more simple and rather stark. Daniel on the other hand is depicted in a glorious setting complete with classical pillers and luxurious landscape. The Verplancknfamily was one iof the most prominent in New York at the time. I am not sure why Daniel's portrait was more elaborate. Was this requested by the family? That seeems more likely than Copley's own idea as it took longer to paint and thius must have been more expensive. Daniel attended the city's best schools and his parents passed on to him their taste for the finest of everything. Perhaps his portrait exceeds theirs in grandeur, representing their high expectations for him. Daniel wears a stylish orange-red suit and matching knee breaches with an expensive brocaded vest. Nore there is no hint of skeleton suit and open collar styling which had begun to influence boys' dress in Europe. Daniel has done a remarkable job of taming a pet squirrel.


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Created: 2:36 AM 2/25/2007
Last updated: 2:36 AM 2/25/2007