The Gore Family with George, 3rd Earl Cowper (ca. 1775)

Johan Zoffany (1733–1810)

This portrait was probably commissioned by the Gore family to celebrate the marriage of Hannah Anne Gore to George, 3rd Earl Cowper, both seen standing. In 1774 Charles Gore (seated) took his wife and three daughters to Florence, where Lord Cowper, an expatriate collector and patron of the arts, met Hannah Anne, then aged sixteen (both standing). The painting is set in Italy, with a view of Tuscan hills beyond the bride’s mother and sister on the right. Above Hannah Anne is a painted allegory showing Hercules evicting the figure of Envy from the Temple of Hymen, an allusion perhaps to the termination of Cowper’s past love affairs. The musical harmonies produced by Hannah’s sister Emile, playing an early square piano, and her father, who plays the cello, suggest the marital harmony that awaits the newlyweds; Zoffany has thus cleverly placed allusions to the past behind the couple, and to their future in front of them. The same artist also painted a portrait of Hannah Anne Gore in the costume of a savoyarde playing a hurdy-gurdy (now at the National Portrait Gallery, London).
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The Sharp Family (1779-1781)

by Johann Zoffany oil on canvas, 1779-1781 45 1/2 in. x 49 1/2 in. (1156 mm x 1257 mm) Lent by executors of Miss Olive Lloyd-Baker, 1978

The remarkable 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 and has laid his cello aside for the moment; Granville Sharp, the famous philanthropist and 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.

Bron: afbeelding Wikimedia Commons, Tekst: National Portrait Gallery

Zelfportret met dochter Maria Theresa, James Cervetto, en Giacobbe Cervetto (1733–1810)

Zoffany was fond of music and was part of a musical circle that included the composers Johann Christian Bach and Karl Friedrich Abel, and the artists Thomas Gainsborough, Giovanni Battista Cipriani, and Francesco Bartolozzi. Zoffany is said to have owned a barge on which the friends played and listened to music as they floated up and down the Thames.

This painting celebrates the pleasures of art, music, and friendship. On the left, Zoffany himself embraces his daughter, Maria Theresa, with one arm and in the other hand holds aloft a palette and brushes. On the right, Giacobbe Cervetto, an Italian musician, listens to the playing of his pupil and illegitimate son, James Cervetto. Giacobbe Cervetto had come to England in 1728 as a dealer in instruments, but found performing music to be more lucrative. He played at Vauxhall Gardens every summer, and was solo cellist at the Drury Lane theater where he eventually succeeded David Garrick as manager. Cervetto became one of the most successful performers of his day, helping to popularize the cello, and was known for wearing on the forefinger of his bow hand a huge diamond, which flashed and sparkled as he played. He lived to be over one hundred years old.

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Portrait Of Giacomo Cervetto (1680-1783)

Bron: artrenewal

The Family of Sir William Young


This portrait shows a typical, wealthy 18th century family. They are relaxing and enjoying themselves. This type of painting is called a conversation piece. This meant that rather than just sitting there, the people in the painting look like they are talking or doing something. This makes the painting look alive and more interesting. The artist, Zoffany, helped develop the fashion for this type of piece, positioning the sitters as if they are actors.

The family is wearing what we would call fancy dress; 17th century Van Dyck costumes. This was extremely popular in Britain around 1770. This is one of the clues that shows the painting was commissioned: the family have obviously gone to a lot of trouble to prepare for this portrait.

The musical instruments held by some of the family show that they liked music. We call items like these 'props'. Sir William (in the middle) is shown playing a cello. His wife and daughter (next to him) are both playing the theorbo (a string instrument like a lute).

Painting twelve people would have been quite difficult for the painter, Zoffany. To get round this problem he has divided the sitters into smaller groups. This means that they do not all have to pose at the same time.

How Do We Know That The Family Is Wealthy? Artists were paid according to the number of people in the painting. A portrait with so many people would have been very expensive. This suggests that the Young family is wealthy. We can see another clue to the family's fortune on the left of the painting; the black boy. This suggests that their wealth probably came from the slave/sugar trade in the West Indies. However, this boy looks more like a servant than a slave. He is dressed in similar clothing to the family, he is wearing an expensive earring and is holding the small boy. Slaves usually wore metal collars as well.

Portraits like this were often commissioned (paid for) to celebrate an event. It is thought that this one marks the time when Sir William became a baron and was made Governor of Dominica. Another possibility is that it celebrates his daughter's marriage.

Who Was The Artist? The artist was Zoffany. He was a German artist who had painted for a German Prince and his palace before arriving in England in around 1760. At first Zoffany was not successful in England. However, he was discovered by the famous actor, David Garrick (whose portrait is included in this unit) and fame followed. The highpoint came when Queen Charlotte and King George III became his patrons. Two of his royal family portraits are in Windsor Castle.

In 1772 the Queen sent Zoffany to Florence to paint scenes for her. He stayed there until 1778, during which time he painted for the Austrian Imperial family and was awarded the title, Baron of the Holy Roman Empire. On his return to England he found himself out of favour with the King and Queen. Instead he went to India and there painted for Indian princes and the British there. He eventually returned to Britain in 1789.

Bron: National Museums Liverpool