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GAWEN HAMILTON (NEAR HAMILTON, SCOTLAND 1697-1737 LONDON)
GAWEN HAMILTON (NEAR HAMILTON, SCOTLAND 1697-1737 LONDON)
GAWEN HAMILTON (NEAR HAMILTON, SCOTLAND 1697-1737 LONDON)
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GAWEN HAMILTON (NEAR HAMILTON, SCOTLAND 1697-1737 LONDON)

Elegant figures playing cards at a table in an interior, with an artist behind the group

Details
GAWEN HAMILTON (NEAR HAMILTON, SCOTLAND 1697-1737 LONDON)
Elegant figures playing cards at a table in an interior, with an artist behind the group
oil on canvas
23 ¾ x 21 7/8 in. (60.5 x 55.3 cm.)
in an eighteenth-century carved and gilded frame
Provenance
(Probably) Mr. Hammond of Colchester.
(Probably) the Reverend Charles Onley, (d. 1822) Stisted Hall, Essex, by 1794, and by inheritance to his nephew,
Charles Harvey, later Savill-Onley (1756-1843), and by descent to his son,
Onley Savill-Onley (1795-1890); (†) Christie's, London, 16 June 1894, lot 56, as 'Hogarth' (60 gns. to Colnaghi).
Oscar Bondy (1870-1944), Vienna, by 1929, as 'Hogarth', from whom confiscated by the Gestapo in 1939 following the Anschluss of March 1938.
Stored at the Tiroler Landesmuseum Ferdinandeum, Innsbruck (inv. no. Bo 1314).
Restituted to Elizabeth Bondy, February, 1948.
Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, New York, 3 June 1988, lot 2.
Literature
(Probably) The Gentleman's Magazine, 1794, LXIV, part II, pp. 903-4, as at Stisted Hall, Essex and by Hogarth.
Dr. E. Einberg and J. Egerton, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery Collections, The Age of Hogarth, British Painters born 1675-1709, London, 1988, pp. 36 and 38, under no. 15, fig. 8.

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Lot Essay


Three versions of the present composition are known. The others, which are of the same format, are in the Tate Gallery (no. 00943; E. Einberg and J. Egerton, op.cit., no.15) and the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool (E. Einberg and J. Egerton, p. 36, fig. 6). This composition differs slightly from the other versions in that a spaniel that appears in the other two, at the foot of the right hand sitter's dress, does not appear here. The very detailed description of the version at Stisted Hall, Essex, in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1794 (op.cit.), mentions the cat in the composition but makes no mention of a dog, which indicates that it is likely to be the present picture.

The central group in the painting enjoy a game of cards; their status as patrons of the arts is suggested by the presence of an artist and his assistant carrying a folder of sketches behind the table. They are also waited on by a young servant of African or Afro-Caribbean heritage. The rise of the British Empire in the eighteenth century, fuelled in part by enslaved labour on plantations in the North Atlantic world, was a period of economic growth in Britain. It also brought unparalleled numbers of Africans and people of African and Afro-Caribbean heritage, both enslaved and free, to the British Isles. In many Conversation pieces of this date unidentified males or females of African heritage are included, almost exclusively in the role of the servant and placed in the margins of the composition. Here the boy is shown wearing blue and silver livery; this may either have reflected the family’s colours or have been designed specifically for him.

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