Why did I love this book?
Eighteenth-century innovators came in many forms. Some were artisans, the craftspeople who made utilitarian things. Some were what were sometimes called toy makers, not because they made toys, but because they made baubles and trinkets for adults. Some were natural philosophers, whose innovations came in the physical sciences. And some were artists—creators of high-priced, highly-prized, and beautiful things. In this latter category, John Singleton Copley was America’s most accomplished. Perhaps the finest portraitist ever to paint in America, on the eve of the War for Independence, the young Copley left for Britain, never to return to the country of his birth. Kamensky’s intimate and moving portrait shows Copley, the ex-pat and loyalist, ascending to the pinnacle of the British art world. But far more importantly, it shows the price Copley and his family paid for this ascent, reminding the reader that innovation does not happen in a political vacuum.