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“At least 18 or 20 persons. setting at Cards & Tea”: William Hogarth’s Wollaston Family and the British Conversation Piece
21 October, 2019 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
To be presented by Professor Kate Retford
Professor of History of Art, Birkbeck, University of London
Earlier this year, the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery was able to purchase William Hogarth’s important painting of the Wollaston family (1730), thanks to a crowdfunding campaign and crucial support from the Art Fund. This was a major acquisition, securing one of the most important examples of a conversation piece painted in Britain in the early eighteenth century.
In this lecture, Professor Kate Retford, author of The Conversation Piece: Making Modern Art in Eighteenth-Century Britain (2017), will explore the emergence of the conversation piece as a distinctive form of portraiture in Britain at this historical moment, and the place of The Wollaston Family within that genre. With its depiction of a large group of diminutive figures, absorbed in various activities around tea and card tables, positioned in an elaborate setting, Hogarth’s painting was an early and highly significant exercise in this new mode of small group portraiture.
Kate Retford joined the Department of History of Art at Birkbeck in 2003 where she researches eighteenth century British art especially the portraiture of that period, with issues of gender and the country house art collection, Her first book, ‘The Art of Domestic Life: Family Portraiture in Eighteenth – Century England’, was runner up for the Longman History Book Award in 2006.
The lecture will be held at the New Walk Museum: