Joseph HighmoreMr Oldham and his Guests c.1735-45

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Artwork details

Joseph Highmore (1692‑1780)
Mr Oldham and his Guests
Date c.1735-45
MediumOil paint on canvas
Dimensionssupport: 1055 x 1295 mm frame: 1235 x 1475 x 88 mm
Acquisition Purchased 1948
On display at Tate Britain
Room: 1730


This picture is among the most original works to have been produced in England in the first half of the eighteenth century, maintaining the intimate atmosphere of a small conversation piece in a life-size group portrait. Highmore painted it at the request of Nathaniel Oldham to commemorate a dinner party held at Oldham's home, to which he had arrived belatedly. According to the author and antiquarian, John Thomas Smith (1766-1833), who heard the story from his father, who had at one time owned the picture and was himself the godson of Mr Oldham:

Mr Oldham had invited three friends to dine with him at his house at Ealing; but being a famous and constant sportsman he did not arrive till they had dined; and then he found them so comfortably seated with their pipes over a bowl of negus, that he commissioned Highmore to paint the scene and desired that he might be introduced in it just as he then appeared (quoted in Einberg and Egerton 1988, p.47)… (read more)

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