Brook Watson had been sent to sea at fourteen; he decided to go for a swim while his ship was docked in the shark-infested waters of Havana Harbor. The painting depicts the moment when the shark is coming by for his third and possibly final attempt to make a meal out of Watson. The men in the boat were successful in harpooning the shark and heroically rescued the swimmer. Upon returning to the ship, Watson’s left leg was amputated and he was fitted with a peg leg. Later in life he became Lord Mayor of London and was often satirized, with his peg leg playing an important feature. This is one of three versions that Copley painted to commemorate the heroic rescue of Brook Watson. Rescue Group, a preparatory sketch made by Copley for Watson and the Shark, is also in the DIA collection.