Monday, September 24, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Philip Mercier (1689-1760) Conversation Piece, or Lovers in a Park, c.1727  Syon House, Middlesex, UK

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Nathaniel Dance-Holland (English, 1735-1811) William Weddell, the Reverend William Palgrave, and Mr I'Anson in Rome

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Stephen Slaughter (1697-1765) The Betts Family c 1746

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Friday, September 21, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Nathaniel Dance-Holland (English, 1735-1811) The Pybus Family, 1769.  The picture represents John Pybus Senior (1727–1789), a retired East India Company servant, & his wife Martha, née Small, (1733–1802), with their children identified, from left to right as: Martha (1758–1788), Anne (1756–1791), John Junior (1754–1808), & Charles Small (1766–1810). The family is depicted full-length, exquisitely dressed in tones of pink & grey, in an idyllic English garden/landscape setting. The painting was brought to Australia in 1897 by descendants of the sitters and, from that point on, escaped the notice of scholars of both Nathaniel Dance & 18C British art.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Nathaniel Dance-Holland (English, 1735-1811) - James Grant of Grant, John Mytton, the Hon. Thomas Robinson, and Thomas Wynne.  c.1760 Conversation Piece painted in Rome.  The Philadelphia Museum of Art tells us in Richard Dorment's, British Painting in the Philadelphia Museum of Art: From the 17C through the 19C (1986), pp. 90-96, that a conversation piece is an informal group portrait, often depicting friends. This is one of 4 almost identical canvases painted in 1760–61, one for each of the 4 sitters. With the ruins of the Colosseum plainly visible in the background, the picture records the young men's trip to Rome. Known as the Grand Tour, such travel was a standard part of the education of 18C English gentlemen.

 A conversation piece is a portrait in which the sitters are show full length to a scale much smaller than life. A direct outgrowth of Dutch 17C domestic portraiture the genre became fashionable in England in the late 1720s & 1730s Dance was in part responsible for its revival in the 1760s, but with the difference that he specialized in showing English gentlemen at ease on the Grand Tour in Rome.  Although Dance's name was soon to become identified with this kind of souvenir of Italy, this painting was his 1st attempt at the genre. After his return to England in 1766, Dance never painted another conversation piece.

This picture is one of 4 almost identical canvases (Nathaniel Dance, A Conversation Piece, 1760  Cullen, Banffshire, the Earl of Seafield Collection & Nathaniel Dance, A Conversation Piece, 1760,  New Haven, Yale Center for British Art) 4 painted in 1760-61 for each of the 4 sitters. They are, from left to right, James Grant of Grant (1738-1811) dressed in a blue suit with silver trim; John Mytton (d. 1784) in a red coat with gold trim & black trousers; Hon.Thomas Robinson (1738-1786) in mauve with gold trim; & Thomas Wynn (1736-1807) in a green coat with gold trim & red trousers. They are shown in an imaginary landscape, with the ruins of the Colosseum behind them at the left, & at the right a large classical urn decorated with dancing female figures. Only Grant looks out at us; Mytton turns his head toward Grant but gestures with both hands toward the seated Robinson who, in turn, shows Wynn an elevation of the Temple of Jupiter Stator (Plate 51 of Giacomo Leoni’s edition of The Architecture of A.Palladio, vol. 4 {London, 1721}.

Thomas Robinson was an amateur architect & later a member of the Society of Dilettanti (elected 1763), as were Wynn (elected 1764) & Mytton (elected 1764).  Robinson set out for Italy on October 20, 1758, arriving in Turin on November 21. There he settled down for a year's study, of the Italian language under the guidance of a Signor Borra, who ''for near Eight months...never hardly missed spending two or three hours in the afternoon with me." In his frequent correspondence with his father, Sir Thomas Robinson, later 1st Lord Grantham, Robinson did not mention his future traveling companions until a letter from Turin dated March 30, 1759: "Mr. Grant is perhaps the only person...I should like to undertake the journey thro’ Italy with. Mr. Mytton & a younger son of Sir John Wynne's are just arrived." These three were spending the winter in Geneva, & since Robinson had been to Westminster School with Grant & Mytton, it was natural for him to travel to Switzerland in June of 1759 to meet them." As a result of this trip, he modified his traveling plans. This he explained to his father in a letter from Turin of August 18, 1759:  I have now settled something in regard to my progress into Italy & my manner of taking it. Nothing was fixed upon that head in Switzerland, as Mr. Wynne & Mr. Grant were of different Sentiments; the former being desirous of spending his Winter at Venice & the latter preferring Rome. I therefore thought proper on my return to this place to provide against all cases & make sure of an agreeable companion as far as Rome, & finding that my old Acquaintance Mr. Mytton was in the same Case, made Overtures to him & settled that we should go to Rome together at all Events; if our Geneva friends should separate, we agreed to take in the one that was to go our way, & if they intended both to go to Rome we determined to let them go some time before or after us as might be most agreeable to us all, for we propose meeting at last & being pretty much of the same turn in regard to our Love of Virtue, hope our Society at Rome will not be disagreeable. I heard the other day that Mr.Wynne was come over to our Plan. Mr. Mytton was my School-fellow at Westminster & was afterwards at Clare Hall [Cambridge] & at both these places was always one of my intimate Friends. I could not have met with a man more agreeable to my Choice, as he is of a most worthy Character, a good Scholar & has a cultivated understanding.

Robinson's father replied with his approval of the plan (and of Mytton), & by October 14 the 4 friends were reunited in Turin. By October 30, decisions had been reached. Robinson wrote from Turin: "I shall set out with Mr. Mytton only, as ye other Gentlemen propose going another Road; it would besides be very impossible for so large a party to travel together with Ease or Convenience."  So these 2 left Turin & traveled to Rome, stopping at Parma on November 6 & arriving in Rome on November 25. They lost no time in establishing themselves there, hiring a cicerone to show them the city. Wynn & Grant were expected any day. Thus, Robinson wrote to his father in December 1759, "I have ye happiness to be attended by ye best antiquarian in Rome, the Abbate Venuti, who as soon as Mr. Grant & Mr. Wynn arrive will begin to go about with us, which will be in a very few days."

After leaving Turin around November 1, Grant & Wynn visited Parma, Bologna, & Florence on their way south, but whether they stopped in Rome in December to rejoin their friends as planned or continued directly to Naples we do not know. On January 1, as they entered Naples. Grant's slightly dry account of this stay survives; in it he described their ascent of Mount Vesuvius & a collection of Priapuses at Portici. They remained in Naples until February 1760, arriving (or returning) to Rome on the tenth. These dates are relevant because the first version of this conversation piece was probably commissioned about this time, with the sittings commencing sometime in the following two months, when the 4 were together in Rome. This is likely because by April 15, Robinson & Mytton had left for Naples, not to return until June 20, & by the beginning of July, Grant had departed for home.

Nowhere in their letters do Robinson or Grant refer to the conversation piece by Dance.  But, on December 17, 1760, Nathaniel Dance wrote to his father: I have not yet quite freed myself from the disagreeable task of copying the Conversation Picture, tho' I believe it will not now be long before I shall. It has taken me up a good deal of time, as I was obliged to make 4 Copies, & tho I shall not acquire any great improvement from it or be paid much for my trouble yet I cou'd not refuse doing it, as it was the means of making me acquainted with my LORD GREY  & the other Gentlemen who have given me Commissions for Pictures besides....I am convinc'd these gentlemen will do me all the service that lyes in their power; I hear already that Mr. Robinson has recommended me to the DUKE of MARLBOROUGH, & other gentlemen who are coming to ROME, & he has me very much at heart. My good friend Mr. Crispin introduc'd one to the acquaintance of these Gentlemen.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Joseph Francis Nollekens, 1702–1748, Flemish, active in Britain from 1733) Children Playing with a Hobby Horse.  Joseph Francis Nollekens was a Flemish painter who was principally active in England where he is often referred to as "Old Nollekens" to distinguish him from his famous son, the sculptor Joseph Nollekens.  Nollekens found a major patron in Richard Child, 1st Earl Tylney, for whom he painted conversation pieces usually set in the gardens of Wanstead House.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

The Sharp Family (and dog) by Johann Zoffany, 1779-81.
Mary Lloyd-Baker (née Sharp) (1778-1812), Daughter of William Sharp. Sitter in 1 portrait.
Elizabeth Prowse (née Sharp) (1733-1810), Sister of Granville & William Sharp. Sitter in 1 portrait.
Anna Jemima Sharp (1762-1816), Daughter of John Sharp. Sitter in 1 portrait.
Catherine Sharp (née Barwick) (1741?-1814), Wife of William Sharp. Sitter in 1 portrait.
Catherine Sharp (1770-1843), Daughter of James Sharp.
Frances Sharp (1738-1799), Sister of Granville & William Sharp. .
Granville Sharp (1735-1813), Scholar & philanthropist.
James Sharp (1730-1783), Ironmaster; brother of Granville & William Sharp.
Mrs James Sharp (née Lodge).
John Sharp (1723-1792), Archdeacon of Northumberland.
Judith Sharp (1733-1809), Sister of Granville & William Sharp.
Mary Sharp (née Dering) (1720-1798), Wife of John Sharp.
William Sharp (1729-1810), Surgeon to George III.

The Sharp family gave fortnightly concerts as an orchestra from the 1750s onwards. This conversation piece, one of Zoffany's masterpieces, commemorates the concerts they gave on board their sailing barge Apollo at Fulham. The work was commissioned from Zoffany by William Sharp, surgeon to George III. Sharp is seen standing at the tiller, hat raised, wearing the Windsor uniform with its distinctive red collar; his instruments are the French horns which rest on the piano. Of his three brothers, Dr John Sharp is on the right & has laid his cello aside for the moment; Granville Sharp, the famous philanthropist & slavery abolitionist, holds his favoured flageolets in one hand, his clarinet being nearby on the piano; while James Sharp, an engineer, holds the serpent. The three Sharp sisters complete the orchestra: Elizabeth at the piano, Judith with music in hand and, above to the right, Frances with a theorbo or perhaps an angelica.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Monday, September 17, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany, (1733-1810) The Drummond Family (and dog) 1769.  The Yale Center for British Art tells us that of all the major artists working in 18C England, none explored more inventively the complexities of Georgian society & British imperial rule than Johan Zoffany (1733–1810). Born near Frankfurt, Zoffany trained as an artist in Germany & Italy. In 1760 he moved to London, where he adapted brilliantly to the indigenous art culture & patterns of patronage, creating virtuoso portraits & subject pictures that proved to be highly desirable to a wide range of patrons. Zoffany’s work provides an invaluable & distinctive appraisal of key British institutions: the art academy, the Court, the theatre, the families of the aristocracy & bourgeoisie, & the burgeoning empire. Despite achieving considerable success in England, Zoffany remained in many ways an outsider, scrutinizing British society & its customs & mores. Restless & drawn to a peripatetic existence, he traveled for extended periods in his native Germany, Austria, Italy, & India. After his death there was no move to situate Zoffany as one of the key figures in the burgeoning British school of art; this exhibition aimed to correct that oversight & demonstrated his central importance to the artistic culture of 18C Britain & Europe.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) William Ferguson introduced as Heir to Raith 1769

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) Warren Hastings and His Second Wife in Their Garden at Alipore 1784

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Friday, September 14, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) Three Sons of John, 3rd Earl of Bute (and dog) 1763

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) Three Daughters of John, 3rd Earl of Bute  The Tate tells us that John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute commissioned this portrait of 3 of his daughters as a pair with one of 3 of his sons.  The 3rd Earl was a great patron of the arts & formed an important collection, including paintings, prints & books. He was a close adviser & later favorite Prime Minister to the young King George III, although he resigned from that position in 1763, at around the time the Bute portraits were painted. Nevertheless he remained one of the most powerful aristocrats in Britain. It was probably Lord Bute who, following this commission, introduced Zoffany to the King & Queen, initiating a highly successful period of Royal patronage for the artist. In this animated portrait three of the daughters of the Earl are playing with pet squirrels. On the left is the youngest child, Lady Louisa Stuart (1757-1851), holding up a hazelnut to lure back one of the squirrels, which has become free of its tether. She wears a simple white dress with red shoes, which were fashionable attire for young girls around this date. The older girl, seated in the center dressed in an elegant coral red gown, is probably Lady Anne Stuart (1746-after 1779). Standing on the wooden garden bench & holding a string attached to the squirrel on the upper branch is Lady Caroline Stuart, (1750-1813). The girls succeeded through making "appropriate marriages" or by utilizing their good education. Louisa went on to become a much-admired writer, & her entertaining letters & biographical memoirs no doubt reflected a literary inheritance from her maternal grandmother, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu. Anne married in 1764, not long after the portrait was painted, & became Countess Percy & later Mrs. Andrew Corbet, while Caroline became Viscountess Carlow & Countess of Portarlington. The landscape setting for both paintings is the park at Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire, which had become a family seat in 1763. The Palladian Lodge seen on the right was probably a feature from Old Luton, destroyed when the house & grounds were later remodeled by Lord Bute. It adds a specific element to the landscape background, in contrast to Zoffany’s more usual imaginary or idealized backdrops. In his portraits of the Three Daughters of Lord Bute, the artist stresses the playful & slightly mischievous aspect of childhood, & succeeds in capturing the youngsters’ charm without undue sentiment.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) The Woodley Family (and dog)  The National Trust Collections tells us that William Woodley MP (1728-1793), the father of the group, became the Governor of the Leeward Islands for the first time (a post that he was to hold until 1771 & again from 1792 until his death). William was also Lt-Governor of Antigua (1768–88 & 1792–3). Both the motif of the greyhound (‘windhund’ in the artist's native German) coursing a hare & the relief of the Sacrifice of Iphigenia on the replica of the Medici Vase seem to be allusions to the prevailing trade wind in the West Indies. Both William Woodley & his wife (also his cousin) Frances Payne, Mrs Woodley (1737/8-1813) had colonial roots in St Kitt’s. She is holding their baby son, John Woodley (1766-1795), later Attorney-General of St Kitt's in 1826, to whom their elder daughter Frances Woodley, later Mrs Henry Bankes the younger (1760-1823), is offering a rose. The young child pointing to the greyhound is Harriet, or Hariot Woodley, who later married Thomas Pickard of Bloxworth (1765-1844) in 1788, & became an amateur artist. The young William Woodley (1762-1810), seen here chasing an insect, became President of St Kitts in 1807 & Lt Governor of Berbice in 1808.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) The Summer Children 1764  The children of William Brightwell Sumner (d. 1791) & his wife Catherine, daughter of John Holme of Holme Hill, Cumberland: George, William & Catherine. George was baptized in December 1760, & William & Catherine were born in 1762 & 1758 respectively.  William Brightwell Sumner was a highly successful member of the East India Company who resigned from the Council of India in 1767 & used the fortune he had built to acquire the estate of Hatchlands, East Clandon, Surrey, originally built by Adam for Admiral Edward Boscawen. He was later appointed High Sheriff of Surrey in 1777. George, his eldest son, inherited Hatchlands on his father's death. He likewise became a member of the Council of India & was successively Member of Parliament for Ilchester (1787-90); Guildford (1790-96, 1806 & 1830-1); & Surrey (1807-26). He married, on 17 November 1787, Louisa, daughter of Colonel Charles Pemble, Commander-in-Chief of the East India Company's forces at Bombay, & assumed the additional surname of Holme on inheriting Holme Hill, Cornwall, from his uncle Thomas Holme, in 1794. William, his younger brother, became a banker but died prematurely in 1796, while his sister, Catherine, is recorded as having married James Laurell in 1776.  The movements of the Sumner family between England & India are unclear. Both George & Catherine are recorded as having been baptized in Calcutta (1760 & 1759 respectively), but their parents were in England at some point in the early 1760s, William Brightwell Sumner returning to India in 1763 & his wife apparently following later in 1764.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Monday, September 10, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) The Shakespeare Temple at Hampton House, with Mr. and Mrs. David Garrick (and dog) 1762  Eva Maria [performing name Violette] (1724–1822), dancer, & David Garrick (1717–1779), actor & playwright, Garrick was perhaps one of the most famous men of his day & possibly the first true "self-publicist" & celebrity. An actor of skill & energy he transformed the 18C stage, revolutionizing not only theater production, but its moral & social status as well. He brought about a renaissance of the work of William Shakespeare, & his 1769 Shakespeare Jubilee, held at Stratford-upon-Avon, cemented the bard’s position as the greatest dramatist in the English language. Garrick, who had been tutored as a young man by Samuel Johnson.. His promotion of Shakespearean theater took on a more active role when he assumed the management of the Drury Lane Theatre.  In 1755, he commissioned the leading architect of the day, Robert Adam, to erect a temple in Shakespeare’s honor in the grounds of his villa at Hampton-on-Thames, for which he commissioned a life size marble statue of the bard from Louis-François Roubiliac (now in the British museum), visible here through the open doorway. In early 1762, shortly after the painter's arrival in Britain, David Garrick commissioned Zoffany to paint a scene from his play The Farmer’s Return, with Garrick himself in the role of the Farmer & Mrs Bradshaw as the Farmer’s Wife. Garrick invited Zoffany to stay with his family at their villa in Hampton-on-Thames in the summer of 1762, a privilege he did not extend to any other major artist, & it was here that the present conversation piece was executed. Garrick & his wife are set against the backdrop of Garrick’s Shakespeare Temple (designed by Robert Adam & erected in 1755-56 in homage to the great bard). Playing among the columns of the temple is a small boy, probably Garrick’s nephew George, the son of Carrington Garrick, whilst entering from the right a servant brings out a tray of tea.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Circle of Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) The Sayer Family (and dog) With A View Of Bridge House, Richmond And The Shakespeare Temple Beyond

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) The Daniel Mathew Family at Felix Hall, Kelvedon, Essex.  Daniel Mathew was the son of William Mathew (Lt-Governor of St Kitts & Lt-General of Leewards who died 1752 at St John's Antigua). Daniel Mathew (1719-1777) was the son of Capt.-Gen. William Matthew, of the Leeward Islands & Ann Smith.  He was the husband of  Penelope Smith & Mary Bryam, daughter of George Byam & widow of Joseph Lyons of Antigua.  Daniel was the father of Daniel Byam Mathew b 1756; Louisa Gambier b 1753; Mary Mathew b 1755; Elizabeth Monckton-Arundell, Viscountess Galway b 1759; ; Lieutenant-Colonel George Mathew b 1760; Anne b 1757; William b 1758; Susanna b 1762; & Jane Gambier b 1765.  (He was the brother of Penelope Moore; Major General Edward Mathew; Abednego Mathew & Ann Mathew, & the half brother of Isaac Mathew & William Mathew.) 

Daniel received in his father's will "all slaves...the 5 Islands close by Antigua & Crabb Island & the 2 little islands near by called Great & Little Passage, I give the 5 Islands to go with Drew's Hill, & the others to go with Penitenny & Cupid's Garden...Schedule of negros on Drew's Hill: 97 men, 17 boys, 75 women, 6 girls, 32 infants, total 227; and on Penitenny: 3 French negros, 39 men, 49 women, 12 boys, 10 girls, 33 infants, total 146."  The will of Daniel Mathew of St Marylebone was proved 17/06/1777. He disposed of his Caribbean property in St Kitts, Tobago & Antigua, including 2 estates (Penitenny & the other called Cupid's Garden). The St Kitts estates & the real estate in England went to Daniel Byam Mathew, the estates in Tobago & Antigua went to his younger son George Mathew (in a codicil of 1776, he revoked this latter legacy & directed they be sold, with George receiving in lieu £10,000 & the purchase money of a lieutenancy in the Guards.) 

Huge payout' for Painting destroyed in Clandon House Fire 
Patrick Sawer, senior reporter for The Telegraph 29 December 2016
The owner of a £4m painting by Johann Zoffany destroyed in a fire which devastated Clandon Park is set to be reimbursed the full amount by the Government.  The payment would be the largest payment ever made for a lost or damaged work of art in Britain under the government’s indemnity scheme, which insures works on loan to public venues.  The fire tore through the National Trust owned stately home in Surrey after breaking out in the basement on 29 April last year...Among the most valuable works of art in the house was Zoffany’s The Mathew Family at Felix Hall, Kelvedon, Essex, which hung in the morning room.  The picture was indemnified by the government under the scheme run by Arts Council England & the owner’s claim is reportedly now being processed.  “The claim is in the process of being processed & if the money is paid out it would be one of the largest reimbursements ever paid under the indemnity scheme,” said an arts industry source.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.

Friday, September 7, 2018

PERSONAL BRANDING in 18C - GARDEN Conversation Pieces

Johann Zoffany (1733–1810) The Lavie Children (and dog) -1770. These are the children of Germain & Ann Lavie. He was a solicitor and an English descent of a French Huguenot family. Their children were John, Germain (1763–1824), Thomas (1765–1822), Maria, Sarah, Emilia, and Frances. The Lavie Children (c. 1770), shows the 7 siblings of the family living in London. Seven-year-old Germain teeters on top of a seesaw, waving his hat. Thomas, who is younger, anchors the seesaw while admiring his brother’s balancing prowess. Oldest daughter Maria supports of baby Emilia. The middle sister Sarah pets the family spaniel. John is proudly planting his fishing pole, as his little sister Frances is mesmerized by his small catch.

Since the mid-20C, personal branding or self-packaging has described a burgeoning process of attempting to establish a prescribed image or impression in the minds of others about an individual or a family.  With no instant & far-reaching social media or digitally-aided forms of disclosure in the 18C, that wasn't so easy.  But that kind of perception could be reinforced through Conversation Piece portraits.  Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) & Philip Mercier (1689-1760) in the early 18C, & continued by Arthur Devis (1712-1787), George Stubbs (1724-1806), Johan Zoffany (1733–1810) & others, the Conversation Piece was a new form of portraiture, depicting groups of traditional & aspiring gentry often in country house garden landscape settings.

A growing, affluent middle class was emerging, as Britain’s colonial empire prospered in the 17C & 18C, & its Industrial Revolution began.  The dissolution of England's monasteries in the 1530s had led to new land ownership, and consequently to a new class of non-aristocratic landowners. The power battles between this new class & the old finally led to the restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660.  Often socially spurned by established aristocracy, these newly-wealthy merchants, industrialists, & landowners assumed more casual manners enlivening both novels & group portraits. These new portrait Conversation Pieces & novels, like Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice & Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, attempted to portray a more relaxed narrative of the prosperous middle class rather than the stiff allegories & heroic epic poems preferred by earlier aristocrats. Painters were commissioned to hold a mirror to this emerging English society more intimately portrayed in still sought-after planned environments participating in activities expected of "natural leaders" at their elegantly country house landscapes.  No longer were families simply rather stiffly painted outdoors, as they were in the 17C, when budding science was promoting man as the "interpreter of Nature."  Now the newly-privileged yearned to appear in complex multi-figured compositions, filled with more relaxed representations of traditional, socially-proper customs & activities. The vibrant (& at times wholly fabricated) settings in these works reflect the aspirations of the emerging material culture of Georgian Britain. 

Typically those depicted were members of an immediate family, but in-laws, friends & colleagues could be included; & sometimes, significant deceased relatives also appeared.  Occasionally, artists depicted organized gatherings of elite gentlemen discussing new science or scholarship. The settings of outdoor Conversation Pieces reflected the image the client wanted to present, especially the ideal landscape or more-natural garden, which he wanted to portray as the upper-class setting of his everyday activities.  And so, these Conversation Pieces are a great way to see what those in the 18C aspired to have in their planned, personal landscapes. The subjects of outdoor Conversation Pieces were depicted enjoying a variety of genteel pastimes, whether or not they actually could do the activities. Elites, aspiring or long-established, were painted sharing common activities such as hunting, fishing, outdoor meals & musical parties. Dogs & horses were also frequently included as proper gentry accessories.