Friday, January 24, 2020

Painted Family Groups (1770-1951)

Johan Zoffany
Portrait of Henry Knight of Tythegston with his Three Children
ca. 1770
oil on canvas
National Museum Cardiff (Wales)

George Romney
Adam Walker and his Family
ca. 1796-1801
oil on canvas
National Portrait Gallery, London

attributed to John Partridge
Family Portrait
ca. 1815-20
oil on panel
Geffrye Museum, London

François-Joseph Navez
Family of Wandering Musicians
oil on canvas
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

William Holman Hunt
A converted British Family sheltering a Christian Missionary from the persecution of the Druids
oil on canvas
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford

Daniel Maclise
A Winter Night's Tale
ca. 1867
oil on canvas
Manchester Art Gallery


They say he read novels to relax,
But only certain kinds:
nothing that ended unhappily.
If anything like that turned up,
enraged, he flung the book into the fire.

True or not,
I'm ready to believe it.

Scanning in his mind so many times and places,
he'd had enough of dying species,
the triumphs of the strong over the weak,
the endless struggles to survive,
all doomed sooner or later.
He'd earned the right to happy endings,
at least in fiction
with its diminutions.

Hence the indispensable
silver lining,
the lovers reunited, the families reconciled,
the doubts dispelled, fidelity rewarded,
fortunes regained, treasures uncovered,
stiff-necked neighbors mending their ways,
good names restored, greed daunted,
old maids married off to worthy parsons,
troublemakers banished to other hemispheres,
forgers of documents tossed down the stairs,
seducers scurrying to the altar,
orphans sheltered, wounds healed over,
prodigal sons summoned home,
cups of sorrow thrown into the ocean,
hankies drenched with tears of reconciliation,
general merriment and celebration,
and the dog Fido,
gone astray in the first chapter,
turns up barking gladly
in the last.

– Wisława Szymborska (1923-2012), translated from Polish in 2006 by Clare Cavanagh

John Calcott Horsley
Coming Down to Dinner
oil on canvas
Manchester Art Gallery

Hubert von Herkomer
On Strike
oil on canvas
Royal Academy of Arts, London

Lawrence Alma-Tadema
A Family Group
oil on panel
Royal Academy of Arts, London

William Strang
Portrait Group
oil on canvas
Royal Academy of Arts, London

Bernard Fleetwood-Walker
The Family
ca. 1932
oil on canvas
The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent

Steven Spurrier
Celia's Aunts
oil on canvas
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

Stanley Spencer
The Resurrection - The Reunion of Families
oil on canvas
McManus Gallery, Dundee (Scotland)

Henry Lamb
Anne Hewer and her children, Charlotte, Susan, John, and Richard
oil on canvas
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery