Watson and the Shark

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Scaramouche, Dec 14, 2018.

  1. Scaramouche

    Scaramouche Student of the Columbian Exchange Supporting Addict

    Sep 15, 2015
    Dedicated to @tac45

    Brook Watson was born in Plymouth, England in 1735 and an orphan by age 6. Not the best way to start a life in the eighteenth century. He was sent to live with his aunt and uncle in Boston, Massachusetts. By the time he hit his teens he was expressing a desire to go down to the sea in ships. His Uncle was a West Indies trader, Brook soon got his seamen's papers as crew on one of his benefactor's merchant ships.

    John Singleton Copley's original 1778 version, now at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

    In 1749, while swimming alone in Havana Harbor, the 14 year old Watson was repeatedly attacked by a shark. Watson fought off the shark as his shipmates watching lowered a long boat, the shark took flesh from below the calf of his right leg. Blood began mixing with water. On the second strike the shark bit off his right foot at the ankle. As that big fish came round for a third time Watson was lifted into the boat and rescued. They amputated his leg below the knee and he spent 3 months recuperating in a Cuban hospital.

    View attachment 189245
    A full size replica that Copley painted, Museum of Art, Boston, Massachusetts

    Brook Watson went on to live an extraordinary life. Once he was able to stand on his own foot and pegleg he returned to Boston. His uncle's businesses had failed, so he formed a mercantile trading company with a partner that ended up as a third party provider for the British Army in North America. This led to him working for ten years as a commissary for the Army where he became close friends with General Gage.

    Copley's third version, a smaller, more vertical composition, from 1782, now hanging at the Detroit
    Institute of Art

    By 1772 Mr. Watson was a member of the original committee of Lloyds (as in Lloyds of London) where he found his fortune. He served 10 years as it's chairman.

    Chairman of the Board, or Watson without the Shark, artist unknown.

    He served as a Member of Parliament for the City of London 1784 - 1793. He became Lord Mayor of London in 1796. Named a Baronet in 1803 he was allowed a coat of arms (below)

    The leg and Scuto-Divino translating roughly to "Under God's Protection".

    He passed in 1807 wealthy and well honored. One of those remarkable successful lives you rarely hear about that started with obstacles most wouldn't or couldn't overcome.

    If there is enough interest I may do a piece on the artist, John Singleton Copley, who's life went in the opposite direction.

    Copley met Watson around 1774 who commissioned the painting. It became the best known of all John Singleton Copley's work. Many at the time took it as an allegory, the shark being England and the head of the harpoon being the American colonies. John Copley lived next to the rebel, John Hancock, on Beacon Hill in Boston and was life long pals with Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, both well known northend hoodlums. But rather than rattle on more I leave it to you forum members to split into your discussion groups and interpret the painting at your leisure.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
  2. Mike Meints

    Mike Meints Well-Known Member

    Mar 2, 2017
    I always enjoy these history lessons and would like for you to continue . Thanks !
    Kip and Scaramouche like this.

  3. SparkyAZ

    SparkyAZ It is a dry heat, right... Supporting Addict

    Sep 11, 2012
    +1 for more of your historical and just dammnned interesting posts @Scaramouche
  4. JandLCustoms

    JandLCustoms I have many leather bound books Supporting Addict

    May 9, 2018
    DAMN! What a badass! I wish I had a portrait of a shark attacking me in a museum haha
    Steve Owens and Kip like this.
  5. tac45

    tac45 What me worry ? Supporting Addict

    Mar 4, 2012
    Thank you Mouche, great great great great uncle Elmer (the Shark)
    Should have been added to the coat of arms , for he was responsible for Watson’s success.
    The painting has a different interpretation in The world of sharks .
    Elmer represents the Colonies eating a bunch of Englishmen And freeing America.
    See, sharks created America.
    The End . :roflmaro:
  6. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Consider my signature line before replying . . . .

    Dec 4, 2014
    Of course, those dang colonists deprived Great Uncle Elmer of most of his lunch that day too . . . . .

    Very nice of him to give them all a pass on that. Cousin Jaws would have taken out their boat and had a feast that day . . . . .

    @Scaramouche , I am wondering why little 14-year old Brook was swimming nekkid in the harbor that day . . . . . Was this a prequel to "Blue Lagoon" . . . . . ?
    wcanterbury, Mike A and tac45 like this.
  7. Scaramouche

    Scaramouche Student of the Columbian Exchange Supporting Addict

    Sep 15, 2015
    While my wit could never match yours, my hope is your pleasure displaying it, matches mine, in giving you reason to do so.
  8. tac45

    tac45 What me worry ? Supporting Addict

    Mar 4, 2012
  9. ZoidMeister

    ZoidMeister Consider my signature line before replying . . . .

    Dec 4, 2014
    A true symbosis . . . . . . . .
  10. 41 Charlie

    41 Charlie Get off my lawn...

    Feb 4, 2014
    Awesome read, mouche! Thanks for sharing your knowledge, Sir!
    Scaramouche likes this.
  11. isialk

    isialk Well-Known Member Supporting Addict

    Jan 7, 2017
    Very grateful for the post. As is usual, I had never heard of this man. He certainly showed the drive for life when most would have given up. I have seen the picture before in a book I had about Tacs kin. Thanks again.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Scaramouche and tac45 like this.
  12. tac45

    tac45 What me worry ? Supporting Addict

    Mar 4, 2012
    Updated headlines:
    Elmer the shark eats a bunch of Red Coats And was awarded our family Coat Of Arms by George Washington. !!!

    Scaramouche and ZoidMeister like this.

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