John Hamilton Mortimer I. The Hero Decides to Seek his Fortune exhibited 1775

Artwork details

Artist
Title
I. The Hero Decides to Seek his Fortune
Date Exhibited 1775
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 765 x 622 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition Purchased 1948
Reference
N05837
Not on display

Display caption

Attracted by the growing Romantic fashion for giving outlaws and anti-establishment figures heroic stature, Mortimer produced two complementary sets of narrative paintings entitled 'The Progress of Vice' (1774, now lost) and this, 'The Progress of Virtue' (1775). They continue the tradition of painted moral tales begun by Hogarth in the early 1730s, but lack his biting satire on contemporary society. By dealing with 'idealized' vices and virtues embodied in generalized heroic characters, they conform to the canons of history painting. Their simple moralizing tone and elevation of domestic virtues, however, is more akin to the sentimental genre of Greuze in France, and to early nineteenth century historical painting.

August 2004

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