Samuel Adams


Edward Savage ( American, 1761 - 1817 )

After 1772
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General Description

Samuel Adams appears at what he considered his greatest moment, his confrontation with royal governor Thomas Hutchinson of Massachusetts the day after the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770. He holds a petition signed by his fellow citizens protesting the actions of British soldiers who had killed five colonists in a street incident. Adams points to the charter and seal granted to Massachusetts by the British crown which guaranteed protection for Boston's citizens. The classical columns in the background connect him with the rationality and republican virtues associated with ancient Greece and Rome. This painting is a direct copy of John Singleton Copley's portrait of Samuel Adams. Whoever commissioned this copy probably intended to hang it prominently as John Hancock did the original, using it for political inspiration. Adams's head is over-sized, and his torso appears small and ungainly. Copley, whom the artist copied faithfully, often painted male sitters with odd proportions, which, in this case, accentuate Adam's power and intensity.

Fun Facts

  • Edward Savage owned some of the earliest art galleries in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.

Web Resources

  • Edward Savage, Biography
    Read a biography of Edward Savage from the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

  • Museum of Fine Arts Boston
    View the painting by John Singleton Copley upon which the Dallas Museum of Art's version was based.

    Learn more about the link between Samuel Adams and beer in "The Sudsy History of Samuel Adams."