Arthur Devis

The James Family

1751

Not on display
Artist
Arthur Devis 1711–1787
Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 984 x 1245 mm
frame: 1215 x 1465 x 92 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1941
Reference
N05281

Display caption

This group portrait shows Robert James, together with his wife Mary and two daughters Elizabeth and Ann. James, aged fifty-one at this time, was for many years Secretary to the East India Company. Devis specialized in painting fashionable small-scale portrait groups or 'conversation pieces’ set in domestic interiors or spacious parkland. Although such pictures were intended to portray family groups in a private setting, they can often appear quite formal, and in Devis’s case, even stiff. However, for a man such as James, a display of material wealth and worldly success was perhaps more meaningful than family intimacy.

Gallery label, May 2007

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