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The Fourdrinier Family

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The Fourdrinier Family

attributed to John Downman
oil on copper, circa 1786
18 1/8 in. x 24 1/4 in. (460 mm x 615 mm)
Purchased, 1990
Primary Collection
NPG 6091

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  • John Downman (1750-1824), Artist. Artist or producer associated with 33 portraits.

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A Huguenot entrepreneur, Henry Fourdrinier senior (1730-99) is shown seated in the middle of his family with his sons Henry junior (1766-1854), in red, and Sealy (1774-1847), standing, in green. The family are probably shown in their garden in Putney with a patriotic view of Windsor Castle added in the distance. The inscribed monumental urn commemorates their deceased wife and mother, Jemima (1730-81).

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Current affairs

Philosopher and politician Edmund Burke instigates impeachment proceedings against Warren Hastings, former Governor-General of Bengal after concerns about the moral standards of the British in India are raised.
Prime Minister William Pitt appoints commissioners for the reduction of the national debt and establishes a sinking fund of £1 million a year.
Government approves the establishment of a penal colony at Botany Bay.

Art and science

Robert Burns publishes Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect bringing him immediate success across the country.
Engraver and publisher John Boydell initiates plans for his Shakespeare Gallery in an effort to establish a school of British history painting.
Merchant David Dale establishes New Lanark in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, as a model cotton milling community.


General Charles Cornwallis succeeds Warren Hastings as Governor-General in India.
Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Marriage of Figaro premieres in Vienna.
Francisco Goya is appointed court painter to the Spanish king Charles III.

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