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Johan Joseph Zoffany

1 of 11 portraits of Johan Joseph Zoffany

Johan Joseph Zoffany, by Johan Joseph Zoffany, 1761 - NPG 399 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Johan Joseph Zoffany

by Johan Joseph Zoffany
oil on canvas, 1761
20 3/4 in. x 16 1/4 in. (527 mm x 413 mm)
Purchased, 1875
Primary Collection
NPG 399


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Sitterback to top

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

Artistback to top

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

This portraitback to top

This self-portrait painted a year after his arrival shows him in a pensive moment with his 'porte-crayon' (pencil) and portfolio of drawings. This imagery relates to Zoffany's ambitions at a time when the actor David Garrick was helping him launch his career. With Garrick's encouragement, Zoffany invented a new kind of theatrical portrait which became widely known through prints. This increased his following among fashionable society and royalty and from the 1760s to 1780s he became one of the leading painters of conversation pieces and portraits. But once the fashion for conversation pieces dwindled in the early 1780s Zoffany set out for India where, between 1783 and 1789, he painted numerous group portraits that capture the social and domestic life of the British in India. The identity of both sitter and artist of this portrait have long been debated but in 2004, the Gallery reidentified the work as a self-portrait on the basis of comparisons with other self-portraits and the strength of the signature found on the artist's portfolio.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1761back to top

Current affairs

George, Prince of Wales marries Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at St James' Palace. He is crowned George III two weeks later. Buckingham House, on the site of present-day Buckingham Palace, is purchased for the royal family. Bridgewater canal, engineered by James Brindley, opens as Britain's first canal.

Art and science

Establishment of Matthew Boulton's toy factory, the Soho Manufactory, near Birmingham; considered the first modern factory in Britain. Allan Ramsay becomes Painter to the King.

International

Seven Years' War: General Sir Eyre Coote captures Pondicherry from the French in India. A combined Prussian-Hanoverian-British force led by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick defeats a large French army at the Battle of Villinghausen. France and Spain sign the Pacte de Famille forming an alliance against Britain. Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder fails to garner support to declare war on Spain.

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