The end of Shark Week and a long weekend calls for a Sunday post, and this pie is not to be missed! It’s chock-full of flavorful, purple summer fruit and the lattice topping is a fun way to incorporate sharks or any other type of decoration you like!
This pie is inspired by John Singleton Copley’s 1778 work, Watson and the Shark, which was so well-received that the artist later made two copies (all three versions hang in American museums). Born in Boston, Copley was active in colonial New England before moving to London in 1774, where he remained until his death in 1815.
The work depicts the dramatic scene in which orphan Brook Watson was attacked by a shark and subsequently heroically rescued by his crewmates. Watson was a member of the crew of one of the big ships docked in Havana Harbor, and unwisely decided to take a naked swim while docked up. A crude-looking shark attacked him while he was at his most vulnerable, which resulted in the partial amputation of one of his legs.
Copley’s picture is highly romanticized – otherwise, the gory scene would have been more rated R than PG-13. Watson’s skinny body is deathly pale in the choppy water and his severed leg is surrounded by blood but otherwise hidden from view at the bottom of the picture plane.
Brook Watson grew up to be very successful despite his missing leg, and commissioned this work from Copley as a inspirational message to fellow orphans; he wanted to show them that they could overcome adversity, like he had. The picture is highly detailed and the shocked faces of the crewman show a spectacular range of emotions. Copley would have gotten all details of this scene from Watson’s memory, and probably never even visited Havana in his lifetime or ever saw a shark (which explains why this one is totally unrealistic with forward facing eyes and a snout!)
Decorate your pie however you like! With both Shark Week and this painting in mind, I created a modern day shark-proof cage with my lattice – an invention that I am sure Watson wished he had lived to see!
Happy Shark Week and 4th of July Weekend!!
Pie Crust recipe from the Four and Twenty Blackbirds piebook
Featured art: John Singleton Copley, Watson and the Shark, 1778, oil on canvas