As a fourth-grade teacher, I take every opportunity to integrate art into the classroom. So when I was asked to be on the Teacher Advisory Group for the new Performing Arts in Art curriculum for K–12 teachers, I was thrilled…. More»
#ProvenancePeek: Shark Attack!
Every art object has a story—not only of how it was made, but of how it changed hands over time until it found its current home. That story is provenance.
This dynamic painting of a 1749 shark attack in Havana, Cuba, by John Singleton Copley was too good to paint only once. The original hangs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. A second full-sized version of the painting, which Copley created for himself, was inherited by his son and eventually gifted to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
The third version (shown here) is slightly reduced in size, with a more vertical composition. It resides in the Detroit Institute of Arts.
A quick peek into the digitized stock and sales books of art dealer M. Knoedler & Co. at the Getty Research Institute shows the sale of Copley’s masterpiece. It was entered under stock number A3531 in July 1946 and noted as being sold to the Gallery by Robert Lebel, a French writer and art expert. The Knoedler clerk also carefully records the dimensions of the painting—30 ¼ x 36 inches, unframed.
On the right side of the sales page you’ll find the purchaser listed as none other than the Detroit Institute of Arts. The corresponding sales book page gives the address: Woodward Ave, Detroit, Mich., still the location of the museum.
Watson and the Shark, 1782, John Singleton Copley. Detroit Institute of Arts
#ProvenancePeek is a monthly series by research assistant Kelly Davis peeking into #onthisday provenance finds from the M. Knoedler & Co. archives at the Getty Research Institute.