John Singleton Copley was the most renowned painter in Colonial America. Although he was best known as a portrait artist, one of his more famous paintings was called "Watson and the Shark." This painting depicts a brutal scene of a fair-haired young boy reaching from the water for help as a large shark closes in, mouth open and ready for dinner.
Copley based his painting on an actual shark attack from 1749. The victim was Brook Watson, a 14-year-old crew member of a trading ship that was docked in Havana, Cuba. Watson was swimming in the harbor one day when a shark attacked him not once, but twice. The good news? His shipmates witnessed the attack and pulled him from the water, saving his life. The bad news? They were a little late. Watson lost his foot in the attack and later had the leg amputated below the knee. Watson did, however, go on to lead a good, full life -- serving in the House of Parliament for nine years as well as becoming the Lord Mayor of London. Not to mention the notoriety he received as being the first known shark-attack survivor.
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