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John, Fourteenth Lord Willoughby de Broke, and his Family
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Johann Zoffany
German, about 1766
Oil on canvas
39 1/2 x 49 1/2 in.
96.PA.312

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John Peyto, fourteenth Lord Willoughby de Broke, and his wife, Lady Louisa North, appear about to take tea with their three young children. She holds her daughter, who stands on the table attempting a first step. In high spirits, one son enters on the right pulling a bright red toy horse. Another son attempts to take a piece of buttered bread from the table while receiving an admonishing gesture from his father. Johann Zoffany, with his ability to portray lively figures interacting together in meticulous detailed settings, excelled at conversation pieces. These informal group portraits, introduced as a new genre of painting in England in the 1700s, vividly recorded the settings and social customs of the time.

Zoffany took care to include the details of the gentry's lives: Lady Louisa's shimmering light blue gown, the landscape painting above the fireplace mantel, the fine porcelain tea service, and the reflections on the highly polished silver urn. The sparse room also makes a statement about the family's social position. Only an ancient, titled family of the British ruling class would adopt the deliberate casualness of the olive-drab walls and worn carpet. The family has nonetheless displayed its wealth in their fashionable costumes.