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"Family Fortunes: Painting the Family"
2001-07-11 until 2001-09-30
National Gallery
London, , UK United Kingdom

FAMILY FORTUNES comes to the National Gallery after touring to Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery, and Bolton Art Gallery. It explores changing notions of the family over the centuries: from the archetypal family, the Holy Family, to the modern FAMILY of three single mothers painted by Martin Maloney at the very end of the last millennium. The exhibition features some of the Gallery's major paintings of families including, for example, Hogarth's THE GRAHAM CHILDREN and Joshua Reynolds's painting of Lady Cockburn with her three eldest sons.

We are invited to consider what we mean by families, and what was meant at different times in history: in many of these paintings the father is absent and, in some, the painting was intended to serve as a photograph might today - a reminder, a memento, a memory of a particular moment. In David's painting of the Vicomtesse Vilain XIII and her daughter, the image may have been meant to surprise and delight the Vicomte on first seeing the work, because letters from his wife never mention the daughter's presence. Many of the paintings are about dynasties and are specifically portraits, but others, like the endearing group in the Le Nain painting of a woman and five children, are more generic and show a progression of ages, with each child carefully characterised. Loan paintings add to the Gallery's works, among them Allan Ramsay's beautiful and tender portrait of 'Thomas, 2nd Baron Mansel of Margam with his Blackwood Half Brothers and Sisters', from Tate Britain.

A fully-illustrated leaflet is available for 3.

IMAGE:
Lorenzo Lotto,
Giovanni della Volta with his Wife and Family,
probably 1547.
London, National Gallery.


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