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Adam Buck, 1759–1833
The Artist and his Family
Materials & Techniques:
Watercolor, pen and black ink, gray ink, brown ink, and graphite, with gum arabic and scraping on medium, slightly textured, beige wove paper
Sheet: 17 9/16 × 16 11/16 inches (44.6 × 42.4 cm)

Signed and dated in pen with black ink, lower right: ( on base of statue): "ADAM . BUCK . 1813."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
cat (domestic cat) | chair | family | Greek vases | herm | portrait | vases
Associated People:
Buck, Elizabeth, née Sydney (d. 1817), Adam Buck's wife
Buck, Adam (1759–1833), miniature and portrait painter
Accessible by appointment in the Study Room [Request]
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IIIF Manifest:

This interior, featuring decorative niches inspired by subterranean Roman sepulchres and “klismos” chairs copied from Greek pottery, is a reminder of the somber mood of the particular moment of highly stylized Neoclassical taste in England. The stark setting is appropriate because this portrait represents the artist Adam Buck, his wife, and two of their sons in the presence of a herm (or bust on a plain shaft), which probably depicts a deceased member of the family. Ian Jenkins has traced a convincing narrative of mourning and rebirth in the iconography of the Greek vases on display, in keeping with the melancholy inclusion of the herm. The loving interaction between mother and baby, as well as the rambunctious antics of the elder child (who playfully dips a cat into an ancient vase), however, are strategies of representation familiar from Buck’s sentimental genre scenes. Melding the somber and the joyful, Buck succeeded in creating a picture that is a celebration of the continuation of family, as well as a memorial to a member lost along the way.

Cassandra Albinson

Baskett, John, Jules David Prown, Duncan Robinson, Brian Allen, and William Reese. Paul Mellon's Legacy: A Passion for British Art. New Haven : Yale Center for British Art , 2007, cat. no. 78

Ireland - Art on a World Stage 1690-1840 (The Art Institute of Chicago, 2015-03-17 - 2015-06-07) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Classical Taste in America 1800 - 1840 (The Baltimore Museum of Art, 1993-06-27 - 1993-09-26) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Works of Splendor and Imagination - The Exhibition Watercolor 1770-1870 (Yale Center for British Art, 1981-09-16 - 1981-11-22) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

English Portrait Drawings & Miniatures (Yale Center for British Art, 1979-12-05 - 1980-02-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

A Regency Buck : Adam Buck (1759-1833) : an appreciation, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, 2015, p. 75-76,78, 164, fig. 118, NJ18.B8675735 A12 D37 2015 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 277, no. 77, pl. 77, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

William Laffan, Ireland : crossroads of art and design, 1690-1840, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, 2015, pp. 57-58, 60, 165, 236, no. 21, fig, 30 (p. 60), N6787 .I74 2015 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Lowell Libson Ltd : British Art : 2016, Lowell Libson Ltd., 2016, p. 56, Dealer Cat Lowell Libson 2016 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : a passion for British art [large print labels], , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 2, no. 77, N5220 M552 P381 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

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