John Watson: American painter, born in Scotland (1685 - 1768) | Biography
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John Watson
American painter, born in Scotland

John Watson

John Watson
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Quick Facts

Intro American painter, born in Scotland
A.K.A. John I Watson, Van Rensselaer Limner
Was Painter
From United States of America
Field Arts
Gender male
Birth 28 July 1685, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, United Kingdom
Death 22 August 1768, Perth Amboy, Middlesex County, New Jersey, USA (aged 83 years)
Star sign Leo
The details (from wikipedia)


John Watson (1685 – August 22, 1768) was an early American painter, born in Scotland.

Early life

Watson was born in Scotland in 1685, probably near Dumfries. He worked initially painting house interiors, before turning to portraiture.

Work in America

In 1715 he emigrated to Perth Amboy, New Jersey. Watson bought property in the city east of Rector Street and south of St. Peter's Episcopal Church on the Perth Amboy bluffs and built himself a house in which to reside and one to keep his paintings. Early historian William Dunlap believed this to be the first collection of art in America. In 1776, his nephew, Alexander Watson, who was heir to his estate, withdrew from Perth Amboy, which was under pressure from colonial forces under General Hugh Mercer. Soldiers raided Watson's collection and, according to Dunlap, probably distributed and destroyed many of the portraits of English heroes and kings. Contrary to Dunlap's knowledge, however, numerous portraits by Watson still exist today. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a portrait of Governor William Keith (shown on the left) and his wife, Lady Ann Keith née Newberry or Newbury, and the Brooklyn Museum has his portrait of Governor Lewis Morris. The New Jersey Historical Society has two portraits: one of William Eier, the first mayor of Perth Amboy, and one of Governor William Burnet. Watson died in 1768 and is buried in St. Peter's Episcopal Cemetery in Perth Amboy.


Year Title Image Collection Comments
1718 Portrait of Hermanus Wendell, oil IAP 60940560
1726 Portrait of Governor Lewis Morris (c. 1726), oil on linen
John Watson
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, New York Subject: Lewis Morris (1671-1746); chief justice of Province of New York; Royal Provincial Governor of Province of New Jersey. IAP 35680394
1726 Portrait of Governor William Burnet (c. 1726), oil on canvas
John Watson
Massachusetts State House, Boston, Massachusetts Subject: William Burnet (1688-1729); Royal Provincial Governor of Province of New York (1720-1728); Royal Provincial Governor of Province of Massachusetts Bay (1728-1729). IAP 82110142, IAP 81980002, IAP 33220002 and IAP 18830380
Self-portrait, painting IAP 24050046
Portrait of David Lyell (c. 1715-1725), miniature painting, graphite pencil and watercolor on vellum Subject: lived 1670-1725. IAP 07262091
Vase of Flowers with Grapes and Cherries, oil IAP 70080681
Venus and Cupid, ink on vellum Exhibited: Chronological Exhibition of American Art, Brooklyn, New York, 1872.

Attributed artworks

Year Title Image Collection Comments
1735 Portrait of Jan Baptist Van Rensselaer (c. 1735), oil on canvas view Albany Institute of History & Art, Albany, New York Subject: lived 1717-1763.


The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 19 Sep 2023. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who is John Watson?
A: John Watson is an American painter known for his landscape paintings and urban scenes. He was born in 1931 in Mississippi and currently resides in New York City.
Q: What type of artwork does John Watson create?
A: John Watson is primarily known for his traditional oil paintings, with a focus on landscapes, cityscapes, and scenes of everyday life. He often depicts scenes of New York City, capturing its energy and complexity.
Q: Where can I see John Watson's artwork?
A: John Watson's artwork can be found in numerous private and public collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. His paintings have also been exhibited in galleries throughout the United States.
Q: Has John Watson received any awards for his artwork?
A: Yes, John Watson has received several awards and accolades for his contributions to the art world. He was the recipient of the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Hassam, Speicher, Betts, and Symons Purchase Fund in 1998.
Q: Are there any publications about John Watson's artwork?
A: Yes, there are several publications that feature John Watson's artwork. His paintings have been featured in books such as "John Watson: Forty Years of American Art" and "John Watson: Paintings and Works on Paper." Additionally, his work has been reviewed and discussed in various art publications and magazines.
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