Art, Entertainment, and Culture

Harvard Historian to Speak at Royall House Jan. 18th

A Revolution in Color coverOn Wednesday, January 18, 2017, at 7:30 p.m., Harvard historian Jane Kamensky, will talk about her recently published book, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley.

An intimate portrait of the artist and his extraordinary times, Jane Kamensky’s A Revolution in Color masterfully reveals the world of the American Revolution, a place in time riven by divided loyalties and tangled sympathies. Though he is revered today as colonial America’s premier painter, Copley’s nation was Britain. By the time the United States declared independence, Copley was in London, and he painted America’s revolution as Britain’s American War. In its review, The Atlantic noted “Kamensky’s great accomplishment is to leave readers pulled by different audiences, demands, and political allegiances right along with him.”

In the book’s preface, the author writes, “Background matters to the story of Copley’s revolution, which centered less on the struggle of rebel colonists against the British crown than on family politics, the labor of art, and the dark undersides of liberty, including chattel slavery, which Copley both practiced and theorized. The history that becomes visible through his eyes is no easy story of the rise and progress of America, but rather a stuttering series of rises and falls and eddies, all worked out on canvas, in a palette that remains startlingly fresh.”

The event will be held at the Royall House and Slave Quarters at 15 George Street, Medford, and is free to Royall House and Slave Quarters members. General admission is $5. Copies of A Revolution in Color will be available for purchase and signing at the event.

On-street parking is available, and the museum is located on the 96 and 101 MBTA bus routes. Please email for more information or visit Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

About the speaker: Jane Kamensky is director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and professor in the Harvard history department. Since earning her doctorate at Yale University, she served on the history faculty at Brandeis University for more than twenty years, and was appointed to the faculty at Brown University as a professor of American history.

About the museum: In the eighteenth century, the Royall House and Slave Quarters was home to the largest slaveholding family in Massachusetts and the enslaved Africans who made their lavish way of life possible. Architecture, household items, and archaeological artifacts bear witness to the intertwined stories of wealth and bondage, set against the backdrop of America’s quest for independence. The Slave Quarters is the only remaining such structure in the northern United States, and the Royall House is among the finest colonial-era buildings in New England.

– Submitted by Tom Lincoln, Royall House Director

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