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Robert Hooper

ca. 1770-1772 John Singleton Copley Born: Boston, Massachusetts 1738 Died: London, England 1815 oil on canvas 50 x 40 in. (127.0 x 101.6 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Diane and Norman Bernstein 2006.12.1 Smithsonian American Art Museum
2nd Floor, South Wing

Gallery Label

Mr. Hooper was the son of Robert King Hooper, who owned a fishing fleet that worked out of Marblehead, Massachusetts. The younger man already sports the rotund physique that Copley had captured in a portrait of Hooper's father years earlier. Behind him, the sea, visible through an open window, recalls the source of his family’s riches. Robert had graduated from Harvard in 1763, and Copley's painting shows him settling into the comfortable life of a merchant prince.

Copley owed his living to this new class, whose wealth supported the artists, writers, and educators of the colonies. He had joined the elite not long before, through his marriage to Susanna Clarke, daughter of a prominent Boston merchant. The union literally moved Copley up in the world, where he and "Sukey" bought property on Beacon Hill, above downtown Boston.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006

Research Notes

Read research notes for Robert Hooper. (pdf)


Occupation - industry - fishing

Portrait male - Hooper, Robert, Jr.