Francis Wheatley

A Family Group in a Landscape


On loan

Musée du Luxembourg (Paris, France): Gainsborough to Turner: The Golden Age of English Painting

Francis Wheatley 1747–1801
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1016 x 1270 mm
frame: 1160 x 1410 x 85 mm
Bequeathed by W. Asch 1922

Display caption

Wheatley’s portrait, which seeks to evoke an atmosphere of domestic harmony, depicts a prosperous family in a pastoral landscape. While the two elder sons prepare to fly their kite, the infant son, still dressed in a customary frock, clings to his mother to avoid the unwanted attentions of the family dog. At the centre the standing father strikes a suitably patriarchal pose. Less harmonious is the presence of the young black servant in shadow at the extreme left. Silhouetted against the sky, his physical detachment from the main group emphasises the fact of the time, that he belongs to the group only in the sense that he is a family possession.

Gallery label, May 2007

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