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This is the first in a series of twelve paintings by Joseph Highmore illustrating scenes from Samuel Richardson’s best-selling sentimental novel Pamela (or Virtue Rewarded). The story, first published in 1740-1, centres on the virtuous lady’s maid Pamela Andrews. She repeatedly rebuffs, then reforms and finally marries her aristocratic would be seducer, Mr B.Scene I is set in a comfortable, panelled study of a well-to-do house. Its solid, old-fashioned furniture and a picture of The Good Samaritan over the fireplace underline the traditional values of the heroine.

May 2007