Arthur Devis

The James Family

1751

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

Not on display

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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