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The Talman Family Group

The Talman Family Group, by Giuseppe Grisoni, 1718-1719 -NPG 5781 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

The Talman Family Group

by Giuseppe Grisoni
1718-1719
40 3/8 in. x 28 1/2 in. (1024 mm x 724 mm)
NPG 5781

This portraitback to top

In July 1717 William Talman married as his second wife Hannah Piggott; [1] in 1718 his son John married Frances Cockayne (d. 1733), a lady of some means who brought with her a substantial house at Hinxworth, Herts., which became the Talman family home; in November 1719 William died. NPG 5781 may accordingly be dated 1718-19.
In 1717 John Talman had brought back from Italy the eighteen-year-old Grisoni, one of his most valued draughtsmen; by 1724 Vertue was saying that Grisoni ‘by his own genius and industry being a good painter of History. especially midling sizd figures paints portraits very well & designs & invents very freely’. [2] Such characteristics appear, higgledy-piggedly, in NPG 5781, ‘a mildly preposterous baroque conversation piece’, [3] celebrating the marriages of father and son as well as their status as virtuosi.
On the pietra dura table supported by a marble satyr, stand a small marble copy of The Wrestlers from the Tribuna, a crystal cup mounted in gold, a small bronze bust, and a small crown, very similar to the Medici crown which had been drawn for John Talman by Giovanni Casini. [4] Dividers and a roll of paper indicate William’s profession while in the foreground lie antiquities, emblems of William’s and John’s learning. Frances holds a fan, Hannah holds up a string of pearls with a black plume. Mercury hovers above father and son, pointing down with his right hand to Cupid who holds up a large ring, indicating this is a marriage portrait, and pointing up with his left hand to the gods, Minerva, Jove and Apollo, with Hercules above them. This is possibly an acknowledgment of Shaftesbury’s allegorical Judgement of Hercules by Paolo Matteis, [5] engraved in 1713, which described a choice between Virtue and Pleasure. According to Grisoni, William and John favoured Virtue (neither looks at his bride).
This entry has drawn heavily on Parry’s work (G. Parry (based on work by H. Macandrew), Wal. Soc., LIX, 1997, pp 31-32).

Footnotesback to top

1) John Talman’s mother was Elizabeth.
2) G. Vertue, Notebooks, Wal. Soc., XXII, 1934, p 20.
3) G. Parry (based on work by H. Macandrew), Wal. Soc., LIX, 1997, p 31.
4) J. F. Hayward, Burl.Mag., XCVII, 1955, pp 308-11.
5) Ashmolean Museum (A1116); engraved S. Gribelin 1713.

Referenceback to top

Parry 1997
G. Parry (based on work by H. Macandrew), Wal. Soc., LIX, 1997, pp 31-32 (the entire number of the Wal. Soc. is devoted to aspects of the Talmans’ lives, works and collection).

Ribiero 2000
A. Ribeiro, Gallery of Fashion, 2000, pp 102-04.

Simon & Saywell (eds.) 2004
Complete Illustrated Catalogue, NPG, ed. J. Simon & D. Saywell, 2004, p 727.

Provenanceback to top

Talman family, Hinxworth, Herts., 1733;1 Sabin Galleries, from whom purchased 1985.

1 On the confident assumption that this is the picture mentioned by James West in one of his notebooks at Ascot: ‘Hinxworth. … The House Mean. pretty Chimney pieces. … some Drawing [of] Seignr Grizoni half Length Mr Talman & Lady by Grisoni. Mr Talman father & son with two ladies small piece very curious …’ (transcribed by Howard Colvin 1953).

Exhibitionsback to top

Tribute to William Kent, Hull/Nottingham, 1985, no.4; Beningbrough 1986–.


This extended catalogue entry is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Later Stuart Portraits 1685–1714, National Portrait Gallery, 2009, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

View all known portraits for John Talman

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