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This family portrait was probably painted to celebrate Richardson’s novel, Pamela (or Virtue Rewarded). Published in 1740, Pamela was a series of letters charting the trials and tribulations of a maid defending her virtue from the advances of her employer. It brought Richardson overnight success and went through five editions in its first year.Richardson is seated here with his second family and a friend, after his tragic first marriage had ended with the deaths of his wife and six children. It is among Hayman’s finest works; exemplifying the informal group portrait which influenced many artists, including Thomas Gainsborough.

May 2007