Philip Mercier, ‘The Schutz Family and their Friends on a Terrace’ 1725
Philip Mercier
The Schutz Family and their Friends on a Terrace 1725
Tate

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.