Circle of John Singleton Copley (Boston 1737-1815 London)
Portrait of a young man, half-length, in a brown coat, seated reading a copy of Fingal oil on canvas 76.2 x 62.2cm (30 x 24 1/2in).
The publication of James MacPherson's Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem in Six Books, together with Several Other Poems composed by Ossian, the Son of Fingal, translated from the Gaelic Language in December 1761, caused a great literary stir and despite the controversy that arose surrounding its authenticity it remained a Europe-wide best-seller for the following half century. Marketed as Scotland's answer to Homer, MacPherson's works were translated into several languages and had phenomenal international success. MacPherson's admirers included Schiller and Goethe; his works were even said to have been among Napoleon's favourite reading when on campaign.