Informal group portrait, small in scale, showing people – often families, sometimes groups of friends – in domestic interior or garden settings
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Sitters are shown interacting with each other or with pets, taking tea or playing games. Conversation pieces were very different from the more formal court or grand style portrait.
They seem to have evolved early in the eighteenth century to meet the demand from the new middle classes, although also gained aristocratic and royal patrons. Probably introduced in Britain by Philip Mercier about 1725 and popularised by William Hogarth, then Arthur Devis, this style of portrait became highly fashionable with the artist Johan Zoffany.