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The Sharp Family

1 of 6 portraits of William Sharp

The Sharp Family, by Johann Joseph Zoffany, 1779-1781 - NPG L169 - Private collection; on loan to the National Portrait Gallery, London

Private collection; on loan to the National Portrait Gallery, London

The Sharp Family

by Johann Joseph Zoffany
oil on canvas, 1779-1781
45 1/2 in. x 49 1/2 in. (1156 mm x 1257 mm)
Lent by Trustees of the Lloyd-Baker Settled Estates, 1978
Primary Collection
NPG L169

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  • Johann Joseph Zoffany (1733-1810), Painter of portraits and conversation pieces. Artist associated with 46 portraits, Sitter associated with 11 portraits.

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The remarkable Sharp family gave fortnightly concerts as an orchestra from the 1750s onwards. This conversation piece, one of Zoffany's masterpieces, commemorates the concerts they gave on board their sailing barge Apollo at Fulham. The work was commissioned from Zoffany by William Sharp, surgeon to George III. Sharp is seen standing at the tiller, hat raised, wearing the Windsor uniform with its distinctive red collar; his instruments are the French horns which rest on the piano. Of his three brothers, Dr John Sharp is on the right and has laid his cello aside for the moment; Granville Sharp, the famous philanthropist and slavery abolitionist, holds his favoured flageolets in one hand, his clarinet being nearby on the piano; while James Sharp, an engineer, holds the serpent. The three Sharp sisters complete the orchestra: Elizabeth at the piano, Judith with music in hand and, above to the right, Frances with a theorbo or perhaps an angelica.

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