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Title The Blunt Children
Collection Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Zoffany, Johann (German painter, 1733-1810, active in England)
Date Earliest about 1766
Date Latest about 1770
Description Zoffany's aristocratic conversation pieces often have a remarkable naturalness and informality. The notion of showing the children playing at agricultural pursuits derives ultimately from the ideas of Rousseau. Rousseau's writings suggested that well born children should learn about nature and gain first the lessons of the common folk.

The two small boys may be Henry and Charles Blunt (b. 1760 and 1761/2), sons of Harry Blunt, Freshford, Somerset, who was 4th son of Sir Harry Blunt, 2nd Baronet. But it is not certain. If this is so, then the painting was commissioned about 1767. Since Charles died in 1763, the sitters may be two younger sons, Walter and Harry. The identity is far from certain. They still wear petticoats and the toy hay cart is amusingly contrasted with the full-size rake.

Current Accession Number 1934P397
Former Accession Number P.397'34
Subject portrait (The Blunt Children)
Measurements 77.1 x 123.4 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by the Public Picture Gallery Fund 1934.
Provenance By descent in Blunt family; by descent to Mrs Zoe Bidgoods; Spink's.
Principal Exhibitions Children Throughout the Ages, Chesterfield House, 1934; English Landscape Painting, Boymans Museum, Rotterdam, 1955, cat. no. 74; Art in the Georgian Home, Arts Council of Great Britain, (date?), cat. no. 45; Pictures from Birmingham, Agnew's, 1957, cat. no. 33; Peintures and Aquarelles Anglaises, Lyons Gallery, 1966, cat. no. 142; Camden Arts Centre, 1967; Pittura Inglese, Palazzo Reale, Turin,1975, cat. no. 46; The Destruction of the Country House, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1974; The New Child: British Art and the Origins of Modern Childhood 1730-1830, University of California, Berkeley, 1995; Innocence and Experience, Manchester Art Gallery, 1992, (touring).
Publications Apollo,1934, p. 268; Vincent, F. W., Notable Pictures, 1949, p. 81; Catalogue of Paintings in Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery, 1960; Foreign Paintings in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, A Summary Catalogue, 1983.
Notes Mrs Z. Bidgoods, Bewdley, Worcs.
Rights Owner Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Author Dr Patricia Smyth
 

 

 

 

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