Joseph Highmore

The Harlowe Family


In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Highmore 1692–1780
Graphite on paper
Support: 130 × 192 mm
Presented by Mrs Joan Highmore Blackhall and Dr R.B. McConnell 1986

Catalogue entry

[from] Works on Paper and Vellum [T04173-T04237 and T04318-T04319]

Various media and sizes
Presented by Mrs Joan Highmore Blackhall and Dr Rosemary B. McConnell 1986
Prov: By descent from the artist to the donors
Lit: C.R. Beard, ‘Highmore's Scrap-Book’, Connoisseur, vol.93, 1934, pp.290–7, ‘Highmore's Drawings for Pine's Processions and Ceremonies’, Connoisseur, vol.94, 1934, pp.9–15; Alison S. Lewis, Joseph Highmore 1692–1780, PhD thesis, Harvard 1975 (University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor 1980), I, pp.230–1, II, pp.650–6, 659, III, figs.263–77, 279; E. Einberg and J. Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675–1709, Tate Gallery Collections, 11, 1988, pp.64–71, all but last six repr.; Warren Mild, Joseph Highmore of Holborn Row, Ardmore 1990

All sheets have been irregularly cut; maximum dimensions only are given. All inscriptions, unless otherwise stated, are in pen and ink, and are thought to have been written by the artist's grandson Anthony Highmore (1758–1829).

The Highmore Gift, of which this is a part, is a collection of sketches, drawings, watercolours, engravings and some family papers which descended from the artist through the late Sir Anthony Highmore King, CBE, to the donors. The papers concern mostly nineteenth-century members of the family, but include Joseph Highmore's Paris Journal of 1734, published by Elizabeth Johnston, Walpole Society, vol.42, 1970, pp.61–104. The following items have been removed for conservation reasons from a scrap-book into which they had been pasted, in no particular order, by Sir Anthony Highmore King's grandmother Anna King, together with works by Susanna Duncombe (née Highmore) and later members of the family, as well as photographs, tracings and other fragments now in the Tate Gallery Archive. Nineteen drawings by Joseph Highmore for John Pine's twenty-plate set of engravings depicting the revival of the Order of the Bath, published in 1730, were sold from the King collection to Lord Fairhaven sometime after 1934 and are on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

T04194 The Harlowe Family c.1747

Pencil on vellum 130 × 190 (5 1/8 × 7 1/2)
Lit: T.C. Duncan Eaves, ‘“The Harlowe Family” by Joseph Highmore: A Note on the illustration of Richardson's Clarissa’, Huntington Library Quarterly, vol.14, Nov.1943, pp.89–96

This, and the following two items, are, so far as is known, unused designs to illustrate Samuel Richardson's novel Clarissa, published in 1747. Highmore had already painted twelve scenes (engraved 1745; see also Einberg & Egerton 1988, pp.50–9) from Richardson's immensely popular sentimental novel Pamela, published in 1740. The resulting close friendship between Richardson and the painter ensured that Highmore would try his hand at Clarissa also. The fact that these three designs are delicately drawn on valuable vellum suggests that they were part of some kind of scheme that failed to come to fruition. Only one scene from the novel is known to have been painted in oils by Highmore (‘The Harlowe Family’, 648 × 784, 25 1/2 × 30 7/7, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven), to which T04194 could be an alternative design. The scene illustrates Letter 7 of the tragic story, where the blameless Clarissa has to face the unjust disapproval of her unkind family.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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