Exhibition: Johan Zoffany RA: Society Observed

Johan Zoffany, 'The Gore family with George, Third Earl Cowper', c. 1775. Oil on canvas. 78.7 x 97.8 cm. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection.

10 March—10 June 2012, in the Sackler Wing of Galleries at the Royal Academy in London

This exhibition constitutes a radical re-evaluation of the extraordinary life and career of this brilliant and enigmatic artist.

Born near Frankfurt in 1733, Zoffany moved to London in 1760. Adapting to the indigenous art culture and patterns of patronage, he created virtuoso portraits and subject pictures that proved to be highly desirable to a wide range of patrons. His work provides an invaluable and often unique appraisal of key British institutions and edifices: the art academy; the Court; the theatre; the bourgeois family; and the British Empire.

Of all the major artists at work in eighteenth-century England, none explored more inventively the interstices of Georgian society and the complexities of British imperial rule than Zoffany.

The exhibition features oil paintings, and a selection of drawings and prints from British and international public and private collections, a number of which have been rarely or never exhibited before. The works testify to the central importance of Zoffany to the artistic culture of eighteenth-century Europe.

This exhibition has been co-organised by the Royal Academy of Arts and the Yale Center for British Art.

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