Tuesday, November 30, 2010
"Watson and the Shark"
This painting is called "Watson and the Shark" painted by John Singleton Copley. Its medium is oil on canvas. It is located at the National gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Copley was an American painter born in Boston who depicted middle-class subjects and picked events that related and had an impact on their lives. Watson and the Shark is a representation of a British sailor (Brook Watson, 14) who was swimming in Havana Harbor when he was attacked by a shark. The boy lost a leg but still became a honorary man with many accomplishments, despite this attack. He showed bravery by becoming a general in the Army. Copley himself was an orphan, but still a very successful painter. His goal in this painting was to show similarities between himself and the boy in order to enhance his own self-image. In this painting there are many people in a small row boat trying to save a young naked boy in the water. There is only one black man in the boat and he is throwing a rope into the water. However, the rope looks like it is not serving any help to the boy. This may symbolize the resentful feelings towards whites back when there was still slavery. The people are dressed in an old English fashion looking as if they are from the 1700's. Most of their faces have looks of shock and horror. Its located in a harbor or coastal city with many ships in the background. There are two sharks in the water heading straight at the victim. Many waves are surrounding the attack are violent. The waves symbolize time and eternity or infinity which may mean that the out come of the attack, if death, is forever. The man holding the stick with the hook on the end seems surrounded by light as if he was "godly" as he is trying to rescue the boy, like the hero archetype. The sea archetype in general represents alien, dangerous, and chaotic times which represents this scene perfectly.