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John Singleton Copley: Watson And The Shark

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John Singleton Copley painting Watson and the Shark depicted the attack of a shark on fourteen-year-old cabin boy in the waters of Havana Harbor in 1749. Watson, an orphan, decided to take a dip from a skiff while the ship on which he was crewing docked in Havana Harbor. A shark attacked him, biting his right leg and pulling him under. Copley's visual account of the traumatic event showed nine seamen rushing to help the boy, while the bloody water proved he had just lost his right foot. The injured Watson’s deathly pale body rises from the depths, naked and vulnerable, with blood swirling around his leg. In the painting Copley used a gray scale color scheme to depict the event. Copley ensured that the picture would be regarded as both beautiful and emotional through his variance of colors and characters. He played with variance of light and dark to make a vivid point. Watson who was the naked boy in the water seems to be making one last attempted to escape from the shark that was inches…show more content…
Copley used lines to draw viewer’s attention to the bottom of the picture which was a very dark shadow. There were a lot of movement in the middle and the bottom of the picture such as the sea waves, wind (hair/clothing blowing) and the commotion on the boat. The standing figures at the top of the boat created an asymmetrical which draw viewers attention to the top right of the painting. The right spear at the top created a line that moved the eyes to the bottom of the shark’s mouth opening. From the shark mouth opening viewers’ eyes focused on the shark body followed to the naked boy then to the men in the boat. The art was beautiful painted through the movement of figures that created a sense of direction for the painting. It was painted in unity with all the figures looking towards the naked boy or at the shark. Together the muted colors, soft lines, emotional figures and light and dark created the expressive content in this
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