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    From the interior to interiority: the conversation piece in Georgian England

    Retford, Kate (2007) From the interior to interiority: the conversation piece in Georgian England. Journal of Design History 20 (4), pp. 291-307. ISSN 1741-7279.

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    This article explores the Georgian interior as represented in conversation piece portraits. It discusses the relationship between real and depicted rooms and furnishings and considers the meanings and values conveyed by painted interiors. The article begins by examining the relatively bare settings of Arthur Devis, which emphasized restrained good taste, in contrast to William Hogarth's more lavish scenes of refined consumption. It then discusses the implications of Devis's reuse of the same interiors for different patrons. Such settings were not intended to represent specific spaces. Rather, like the interiors of Hogarth's modern moral subject paintings, they were to be understood as signifiers of abstract virtues-their generic quality enhancing their legibility. Moving on to the 1760s, the article considers Johan Zoffany's revitalization of the conversation piece, combining lavish description of things with a new sense of intimacy and affect. In contrast to Devis, Zoffany notably depicted rooms and objects owned by his patrons, albeit combined in invented ways and with fictive possessions in order to strengthen their iconographic power. The article ends by speculating about some of the reasons for this distinction, including the social status of their patrons, the changing nature of the art world and developments in the luxury debate.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2020 06:42
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:05


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