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John Scarlett Davis, 1804–1845
The Interior of the British Institution Gallery
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
44 1/2 x 56 inches (113 x 142.2 cm)

Signed and dated, lower right: "J. Scarlett Davis | 1829"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
arch | aristocrats | chair | collectors | conversation piece | cows | frames (furnishings) | interior | men | paintings | patrons | portrait | room | sitting | women
Associated Places:
England | Greater London | United Kingdom
Associated People:
West, Benjamin (1738–1820), American history painter active in Britain
Reynolds, Sir Joshua (1723–1792), portrait and history painter and art theorist
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

The British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom was founded in 1805 and held winter exhibitions at which works by living artists could be purchased. After 1813, the Institution also held summer exhibitions of works by deceased British artists and old masters. This painting commemorates the summer exhibition in 1829 of Italian, Spanish, Flemish, Dutch, and English masters. However, the works shown are not displayed as they were at the exhibition. Rather, the inclusion of the late president of the Royal Academy, Benjamin West, in the foreground holding a self-portrait by his predecessor, Sir Joshua Reynolds, underscores the allegorical rather than documentary purpose of John Scarlett Davis’s painting. West’s figure is itself based on a painting by Sir Thomas Lawrence, his successor as PRA until 1830. Therefore, the first three presidents of the Royal Academy are included among works by old masters with whom they wished to identify.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Seeing Double : Portraits, Copies and Exhibitions in 1820s London (Yale Center for British Art, 2010-06-24 - 2010-09-19) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

A Palace of Art in Victorian England - The Grosvenor Gallery (Laing Art Gallery, 1996-09-13 - 1996-11-24) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

A Palace of Art in Victorian England - The Grosvenor Gallery (Denver Art Museum, 1996-06-01 - 1996-08-25) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

A Palace of Art in Victorian England - The Grosvenor Gallery (Yale Center for British Art, 1996-03-01 - 1996-04-28) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

John Scarlett Davis - The Interior of the British Institution Gallery (Yale Center for British Art, 1984-02-28 - 1984-04-22) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Pursuit of Happiness - A View of Life in Georgian England (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-09-18) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

British portraits : Winter exhibition, 1956-57., , , Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1956, v. 1, p. 123, no. 391, N5054 A545 1956/57 v. 1 and 2 (YCBA) Alao available on Microfiche; Fiche B196, fiche #'s 1 - 4 [YCBA]

Susan P. Casteras, The Grosvenor Gallery, a palace of art in Victorian England , Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1996, p. 193, no. 15, N1165 G76 G76 1996 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Christie's sale catalogue : Pictures circa 1550 - circa 1850 the properties of the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Harewood. . . : 13 July 1962, Christie's, July 13, 1962, p. 11, lot 40, Auction Catalogues (YCBA)

Christie's sale catalogue: Catalogue of Fine Pictures by Old Masters : 24 October 1958, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, October 24, 1958, p. 15, Lot 62, Fiche B51 (YCBA) Hard Copy Avaiable; X348 C46 I.1958/10/24 (LSF) [Contact haasalsc@yale.edu to request item] [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 84-85, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Martina Droth, Britain in the world: Highlights from the Yale Center for British Art in honor of Amy Meyers, Yale University Press, New Haven, London, p. 120, p. 121 (detail), N6761 .Y33 2019 (LC) (YCBA) [YCBA]

Stephen Duffy, The discovery of Paris, watercolours by early nineteenth-century British artists , The Wallace Collection, London, London, 2013, p. 82, 83, ND1928 D84 2013 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Elizabeth A. Fay, Fashioning faces, the portraitive mode in British romanticism , University of New Hampshire Press University Press of New England, Durham, N.H. Hanover, N.H., 2010, pp. 163-64, fig. 4.2, PR457 .F34 2009 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Peter Funnell, John Scarlett Davis : The Interior of the British Institution Gallery, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1984, cover, pp. [1 -6 ], [ 7 ], cat. no. 1, V 0103 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Francis Haskell, The ephemeral museum: Old Master paintings and the rise of the art exhibition, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, p. 114-115, fig. 12, N7395 H37 2000 (LC) (YCBA) [YCBA]

In the light of Cuyp : Aelbert Cuyp & Gainsborough, Constable, Turner, Zwolle, Dordrecht, NL, p. 17, fig. 10, ND653.C8 A4 2021+ (YCBA) [YCBA]

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. 49, 104, no. 86, N6766 Y34 1977 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Catherine Roach, Frame works : paintings-within-paintings in nineteenth-century Britain, Thesis (Ph. D.)--Columbia University, 2009. , University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI, 2009, pp. 22, 25-80, 243, 245, 246, 250, 251, 256, 257, 258, 259, figs. 0.7, 1.1, 1.2, 1.9, 1.11, 1.21, 1.23, ,1.25, 1.28, ND1460.P35 R63 2009 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Catherine Roach, Pictures-within-pictures in nineteenth-century Britain, Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group), Abingdon, New York, 2016, cover, pp. 24-26, 29-63, cl. pl. no. 5, 8 (detail) and 9 (detail); figs. 1.1, 1.3, 1.7, ND1460.P35 R63 2016 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Royal Academy of Arts, Exhibition of works by the old masters and deceased masters of the British school : winter exhibition forty-first year., William Clowes and Sons, Limited, London, 1910, p. 47, no. 170, N5054 A 545 1910 (YCBA) Also available on microfiche B144, on line at racollection.org.uk and in hard copy at WO 1157 (LSF) [YCBA]

Seeing double : Portraits, copies, and exhibitions in 1820s London, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2010, unpaginated, Vertical File V2242 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Sotheby's sale catalogue : Important old master paintings : 27 January 2011, , Sotheby's, , Sotheby's (New York), New York, January 27, 2011, pp. 166,167, fig. 14, Auction Catalogues (YCBA) [YCBA]

R. J. B. Walker, Regency portraits, National Portrait Gallery, London, 1985, p. 372 (vol. 1), N1090 A592 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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