A Rare Group of Four 18thC Naïve School Oil on Canvas Portraits of a Family c.1780

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Origin: English
Period: George III
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1775-1800
Canvas Heights: 29.5 inches
Canvas Widths: 23 inches
In Frames: 32.5 x 26.75 inches

The scarce set of four provincial oils on canvas portraits of a family, painted in the naïve style, and housed in the original(?) black painted frames, showing the barrister husband and his wife, their daughter and son each in period dress and with similar stern but kindly expressions, surviving from the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

The pictures have all had a light restorative clean but no more. Three have had punctured canvases repaired, though they are now presented in good order, simultaneously showing their age but in good stable condition. There is a commensurate amount of craquelure to the canvases and some bitumen to the frames.

This particular family dynamic is fairly straightforward to discern with the pictures clearly painted by the same hand and commissioned at the same time. The middle aged gentleman posed in his occupation as a barrister and his good lady wife are almost certainly man and wife, the young girl, presumed their daughter and her older brother, their son.

The bewigged barrister and man of the house, who wears bands which were adopted in England for legal, official, ecclesiastical and academical use, holds an open copy of the book of Pslams, as does his wife, showing they are people of the Lord and are joined in holy matrimony. Additionally those two portraits both have oval insets whilst the other two do not as a way of tying them in together.

The other two figures, the daughter and son, both have a matching theme to them too; they both are tending to animals, the man a collie dog and the daughter a terrier dog (or possibly a lamb?) The daughter is the only one who has the honour of a background and a large rose can also be seen beside her. It is a common theme in portraiture to pair younger sitters with animals.

Thus, this family wasn’t of Lord or Lady status but were an important family in a provincial town, the gentleman with a powerful job. These pictures would have hung in the stairwell or main sitting room in a larger country pile or Georgian townhouse and their naïve style and style of the frames suggests they may well have been painted away from the larger cities at the time.

Not only does this group have tremendous decorative impact but sets of family portraits are very thin on the ground, especially in this style and from this period. A rarity.

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