“CONVERSATION PAINTINGS” OF THE 18TH CENTURY
WILLIAMSON, George C. Intimate Paintings of the Georgian Period: with an Introduction and Critical and Biographical Notes by Dr. G.C. Williamson and a Foreword by Philip Sassoon. New York: William Farquhar Payson, (1931). Quarto, original half tan pigskin, raised bands, top edge gilt. $650.
Limited first edition, number 21 of only 350 copies, of this illustrated survey of 18th-century group portraiture, known as “conversation pieces,” with 81 rich photogravures and four color plates of contemporary paintings.
The 18th-century “Georgian Era” marks the transition from the Reformation to the Enlightenment in Europe. The period saw the development of modern democracy and produced brilliant achievements in literature, art and music. “The Georgian era is also known as the ‘Age of Aristocracy’ in England, as British aristocrats reached their prominence during this period” (Eras of Elegance). Paintings by Thomas Gainsborough, Sir Joshua Reynolds, William Hogarth, George Stubbs and John Zoffany illustrate the changing times, particularly among the aristocracy. This compilation of paintings from the Georgian period features a great number by German-born portrait painter, John Zoffany, who made his reputation with paintings depicting episodes from contemporary theater and with so-called “conversation pieces”— paintings of groups of people set in their customary surroundings. “For many years his paintings were valued chiefly as historical records (they are sharp and clear in detail and contain a wealth of information about costume); however, he is now also appreciated for his charm and recognized as an artist who brought new life to the conversation piece” (Oxford Dictionary).
A fine copy, with only a bit of soiling to original boards.