John Opie

The School Mistress


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Not on display

John Opie 1761–1807
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1023 × 1270 mm
Lent from a private collection 2018
On long term loan

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This was the painting that established Opie’s reputation in London. It created a sensation when it was shown at the Royal Academy’s annual exhibition in 1784 as ‘The School’. Opie’s handling of paint evoked the most highly-admired Old Masters, like Rembrandt and Caravaggio. What contemporary viewers found remarkable was the combination of realism and dramatic light and shade. This was wholly original, particularly in the context of such an ordinary scene. The school mistress is modelled on Opie’s own mother.

Gallery label, October 2019

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