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George Dance RA, 1741–1825, British

Portrait of a Boy

Former Title(s):

Boy Seated

August 3, 1793
Graphite and watercolor on medium, slightly textured, cream wove paper
Sheet: 9 5/8 x 7 1/2 inches (24.4 x 19.1 cm)

Inscribed in graphite, lower right: "Geo. Dance"; in graphite, lower left: "Aug st[in superscript] 3 d[in superscript] 1793."

Signed in graphite, lower right: "Geo. Dance"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
boy | portrait | seated | youth
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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The distinguished architect George Dance the Younger was a prolific draftsman. Dance particularly enjoyed making portrait drawings, and on weekends, released temporarily from his onerous duties as the Clerk of Works of the City of London, he drew "profiles," as he termed them, of his family and friends. Dance regarded this activity as "a great relaxation from the severed studies and more laborious employment of my professional life," but these distinctive drawings nonetheless betray the author's occupational concerns. His chosen formula of a pencil or chalk outline, occasionally tinted with watercolor, is close to the technique used for architectural drawings of the period, and the profile view he adopted habitually for the portraits suggests analogies with an orthographic elevation. Dance may also have been influenced by the contemporary taste for silhouettes, which were often referred to as "profiles.'

Dance's portraits were admired by his contemporaries, and in 1793 he embarked on a project to draw likenesses of his fellow Royal Academicians, with a view to having them engraved and published. Seventy-two of Dance's portraits, including his "Academical Heads," were etched in soft-ground by William Daniell and eventually published in two volumes (1808-14), with a dedication to the connoisseur and amateur artist Sir George Beaumont. The Center owns twenty-three of Daniell's preliminary pencil and chalk drawings for the project. The sitter of cat. 14 has not been identified.

Gillian Forrester

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 29 cat. no. 14

A loan exhibition of English drawings and watercolours from the collection of Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon of Upperville, Virginia, P. & D. Colnaghi & Co., London, 1964, cat. no. 8, N5247.M385 L62 (YCBA)

An exhibition of English drawings and water colors from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, February 18-April 1, 1962, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1962, pp. 10, 19, cat. no. 28, Pl. 28, NC228 U6 (YCBA) Copy 2 is on Mellon Shelf

Painting in England 1700-1850, collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon. , Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, v.1: p. 204, no. 406, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA)

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 29, no. 14, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA)

Yale University Art Gallery, English drawings and watercolors, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, April 15 - June 20, 1965 , New Haven, 1965, cat. no. 8, NC228 Y34 (YCBA)

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