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Adam Buck, 1759–1833, British

The Artist and his Family

Watercolor, pen and black ink, gray ink, brown ink, and graphite, with gum arabic and scraping on medium, slightly textured, beige, paper, mounted on, very thick, slightly textured, beige, wove, card board
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:
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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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.

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)

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)

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)

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

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