This drawing is a study for the rope pullers at the left side of The Siege of Gibraltar (1791, Guildhall Art Gallery, London). Reminiscent of a violent scene from the Last Judgment, this portion of the canvas stood in stark contrast to the commemorative officer group at right, dominated by the commanding figure of General George Augustus Eliott (later Lord Heathfield).

RELATED EXAMPLES: This sketch is one of two of the Honorable Lieutenant Colonel Lindsay, the Highland officer at the far right of the painting; the other sketch of Lindsay belongs to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. The rope pullers are part of the rescue team at left in the final version of the painting. They are related to similarly oriented figures appearing in two other sketches: another Bayou Bend drawing (see B.54.29 ) and one in a private collection in New York (1966). Sketches of a rope puller in the bow of the gunboat belong to the British Museum, London; Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute, Utica, New York; and the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Book excerpt: Warren, David B., Michael K. Brown, Elizabeth Ann Coleman, and Emily Ballew Neff. American Decorative Arts and Paintings in the Bayou Bend Collection. Houston: Princeton Univ. Press, 1998.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

If you have questions about this work of art or the MFAH Online Collection please contact us.

John Singleton Copley, American, 1738–1815
Study for "The Siege of Gibraltar" (Study of Figures Pulling on a Rope)
Black and white chalk on gray-blue paper
Sheet: 14 × 22 1/2 in. (35.6 × 57.2 cm)
Credit Line

The Bayou Bend Collection, gift of Miss Ima Hogg

Current Location
Not on view
Accession Number
Drawings, Pastels & Watercolors

Collection of the artist to 1815; his son, John singleton Copley, Jr., Lord Lydnhurst (1172-1863), London to 1864; Lyndhurst Library Sale, Christie's, London, Feb.26-27, 1864, lot 661; to Edward Basil Jupp, London; to Amory family, Boston, descendants of artsit; to Edward Linzee Amory (1844-1911), Boston, the artist's great grandson to 1911; to his servant; to Charles D. Childs Gallery, Boston; to Miss Hogg, April 24, 1954.