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Browsing: Adams Family Correspondence, Volume 5


This foot note contained in document ADMS-04-05-02-0204
44. This remarkable “history painting” caused an artistic and political sensation in London upon its public presentation in May 1781, and firmly established Copley's reputation in England. The artist based it on life portraits of over fifty individuals, all peers of the realm or relatives of Chatham. It dramatizes the final collapse of William Pitt the elder, earl of Chatham, during a debate on the war in America in the House of Lords (not Commons, as AA believed) on 7 April 1778. Chatham lived for another month as an invalid, but did not attend Parliament again. See Jules David Prown, John Singleton Copley, 2 vols., Cambridge, 1966, 2:275–291, and figs. 392–415. This painting is now in the Tate Gallery, London.