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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.

May 2007