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Creator William Hogarth, 1697–1764, British
Title Portrait of a Family
Alternate Title(s) A Family Party
Family Party
Date ca. 1735
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 21 x 29 1/2 inches (53.3 x 74.9 cm)
Credit Line Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Accession Number B1977.14.58
Collection Paintings and Sculpture
Curatorial Comment At the far left of this family portrait a small figure with brown hands and dressed in green and red livery holds out a silver tray, on which rests an overturned teacup. Several features of the painting—including its unusual dimensions, compressed composition, and the condition of the canvas—suggest that it was cut down sometime after Hogarth completed it. In its original state, the figure at left was almost certainly wholly visible and probably represented a young African servant. "Portrait of a Family" is characteristic of Hogarth’s innovative approach to the conversation piece. Rather than arrange his sitters in formal, static poses, Hogarth frequently showed them engaged in an action or event—in this case, the disruption caused by the kitten’s toppling of the yarn basket from the tapestry table. The scene is set within an opulent sitting room filled with expensive goods and furnishings, many of them imported to England through its expanding Asian and Atlantic trade networks or made from imported raw materials, including a silver chandelier and porcelain tea service, and a Chinese vase and lacquer ware cabinet. The now partially cropped servant provides yet another sign of the family’s worldly wealth.
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Subject Terms bust | card table | cat (domestic cat) | chairs | chandelier | Chinese vase | conversation piece | costume | curtains | dog (animal) | drawing room | embroidering | family | family | fireplace | food | furniture | gesture | group portrait | handkerchief | interior | men | mirror | party | portrait | pregnancy | saucer | sculpture | servant | slave | tables | tea | teacup | tea set | tea table | tray | women

J. H. Plumb, The pursuit of happiness : a view of life in Georgian England : an exhibition selected from the Paul Mellon collection, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1977, pp. 58, 120, no. 126, N6766 Y34 1977 (YCBA)

Sacheverell Sitwell, Conversation pieces, a survey of English domestic portraits and their painters, B.T. Batsford, London, 1936, pp. 17, 18, 92, pl. 17, fig. 17, ND1314 S5 1936 (YCBA)

Ellen G. D'Oench, The Conversation Piece: Arthur Devis & his contemporaries, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1980, pp. 6-7, 68, cat. no. 47, NJ18 D5151 D64 OVERSIZE

Ralph Edwards, Georgian Conversation Pictures, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, p. 252, 255, fig. 1, N1 A54 105:2 + (YCBA) , Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)]

William Hogarth : a selection of paintings from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon., , National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., 1971, pp. 44, pl. 10, NJ18 H67 U53 (YCBA)

Angus Trumble, The finger, a handbook, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2010, p. 81, GT498.F46 T78 2010 (YCBA)

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, pp. 252, 255, fig. 1, N5220 M552 A7 1977 OVERSIZE (YCBA) , Published as April 1977 issue of Apollo; all of the articles may also be found in bound Apollo Volume [N1 A54 105:2 +]

William Hogarth, a loan exhibition of paintings, drawings and prints of the Virginia Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA., January 30-March 5, 1967, p. 23, no. 18, NJ18 H67 F72 1967+ OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Figures of empire : slavery and portraiture in eighteenth-century Atlantic Britain, organized by the Yale Center for British Art and curated by Esther Chadwick and Meredith Gamer, PhD candidates in the History of Art at Yale University and Cyra Levenson,, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2014, pp. 14-15, 41, fig. 3, V 2556 (YCBA)

Ching-Jung Chen, The early Georgian conversation piece : Thesis (Ph. D.)--Rutgers University, UMI Dissertation Services, Ann Arbor, 2001, pp. 65, 66, 474-75, cat. no. 104, Available online : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses

Jonathan Holloway, Commentary on a Group Portrait featuring Elihu Yale by an unknown artist, [ Website ], Yale Center for British Art, Accessed 11 30 15, Passing comments and references, Available Online ,

Chi-ming Yang, Commentary on Portrait of a Family by William Hogarth, [ Website ], Accessed 11 30 2015, 6:31 minutes, Available Online ,

Jonathan Holloway, Commentary on Portrait of a Family by William Hogarth, [ Website ], Yale Center for British Art, Accessed 11 30 2015, 15:09 minutes, Available Online ,

Stuart Semmel, Commentary on Portrait of a Family by William Hogarth, [ Website ], Yale Center for British Art, Accessed 12 1 2015, 9:14 minutes, , Available Online ,

Mark Aronson, Commentary on Portrait of a Family by William Hogarth, [ Website ], Yale Center for British Art, Accessed 12 1 2015, 15:59 minutes, Available Online ,

Penelope McElwee, The non-representation of the agricultural labourers in 18th and 19th century English paintings : an exploration into the artistic conventions followed by the aristocracy and landowning classes in representations of the agricultural labourers ..., Newcastle upon Tyne, 2016, pp. 12-13, 16 -17, , fig. 1-1, NX650.L32 M34 2016 (YCBA)

Elizabeth Einberg, William Hogarth : A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven, London, 2016, pp. 83-85, cat. 47, NJ18 H67 +E36 2016 (YCBA)

Kate Retford, The Conversation Piece Making Modern Art in Eighteenth-Century Britain, Yale University Press, New Haven, p. 291, fig. 216, ND1314.4 .R48 2017 (LC) Oversize (YCBA)

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