Kate Retford
Kate Retford is professor of art history at the School of History of Art, Film, and Visual Media at Birkbeck, University of London.
Retford, Kate
Retford, Kate
United States of America
Subscribed to the newsletter
Send me site notifications emails
Description: The Conversation Piece: Making Modern Art in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Pioneered by William Hogarth (1697–1764) and his peers in the early 18th century, and then revitalized by Johan Zoffany (1733–1810), the conversation piece was an innovative mode of portraiture, depicting groups posed in landscape or domestic settings. These artists grappled with creating complex multi-figured compositions and intricate narratives, filling their paintings with representations of socially, nationally, and temporally precise customs. Paying particular attention to the vibrant (and at times fabricated) interior and exterior settings in these works, Kate Retford discusses the various ways that the conversation piece engaged with the rich material culture of Georgian Britain. The book also explores how these portraits served a wide array of interests and concerns among familial networks and larger social groups. From codifying performances of politeness to engaging in cross-cultural exchanges, the conversation piece was a complex and nuanced expression of a multifaceted society.

". . . it provides not only an extremely satisfying account of conversation pieces but makes significant contributions to our understanding of British art and the eighteenth century more broadly. Essential." — Craig Hanson, Choice

*This eBook is available exclusively on the A&AePortal.*
Print publication date October 2017 (out of print)
Print ISBN 9780300194807
EISBN 9780300272888
Illustrations 232
Print Status out of print
Description: Gender, Taste, and Material Culture in Britain and North America, 1700–1830
​O​VER THE LAST FEW DECADES, as part of a broader concern with the life of the image subsequent to production, many art historians have studied the display of paintings and concomitant issues of space and spectatorship...
PublisherYale Center for British Art
PublisherPaul Mellon Centre
Related print edition pages: pp.315-340