MID 18TH CENTURY BRITISH SCHOOL CONVERSATION PIECE - CIRCLE OF JOSEPH HIGHMORE.
The stage is set for this charming, diminutive and high quality 18th century portrait of a family on a terrace from an artist in the circle of Joseph Highmore (1692-1780) This sensitively rendered survivor from an age of elegance, is in fact a ‘conversation piece’ a type of informal group portrait popular in the 18th century. Usually small in scale they depict groups of family or friends in domestic interiors or garden settings.
A rare and jewel like example, this painting shows a high status family in repose. A father deep in thought, a mother nursing a baby, and an inquisitive brother and sister sporting shimmering brightly coloured Van Dyke costumes. They are framed by romantic architectural elements, which are softened by rambling roses. This fine painting has been recently conserved and is ready to hang and enjoy in a wonderful hand carved eighteenth century gilt frame.
Joseph Highmore 1692-1780. Born in London Joseph Highmore was the third son of Edward Highmore, a coal merchant, and nephew of Thomas Highmore, Sergeant Painter to William III. He abandoned his Law studies at the age of 17 to work as a painter, after attending Sir Godfrey Kneller's academy. Highmore’s early work adapts Kneller’s style of painting to a more realistic rendering.
In addition to his work as a portraitist, Highmore also illustrated biblical subjects, historical painting being a style which he had picked up whilst in France. But from the 1730s, his paintings became more elegant as he responded to the Rococo influences that began to pervade English painting at this time.
As a friend of Novelist Samuel Richardson, Highmore painted 12 scened from his novel Pamela. This linked him with Hayman and Hogarth as one of the initiators of a British school of narrative painting. In the next few years he received patronage from the royal family, but during the 1740s began to cater more for a middle-class clients, before retiring to Canterbury to devote himself to writing.
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Canvas: 16” x 22" / 58cm x 74cm. Frame: 23" x 29" / 58cm x 74cm.
Internal Ref: 00053