Take a Closer Look: Art Imitating Life (and Furniture)

Met Wheatley portrait Gadrooned chair

Francis Wheatley, The Saithwaite Family
Metropolitan Museum of Art

While doing research for our winter exhibition (stay tuned!), we came across this intriguing portrait in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  This portrait by Francis Wheatley depicts the Saithwaite Family in a drawing room.  Wheatley was renowned for his group portraits and was a member of the Royal Academy.   The portrait entered the museum’s collection in 2009 as a gift of Mrs. Charles Wrightsman.

Wheatley Chair

Detail of Francis Wheatley, The Saithwaite Family
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The setting of the portrait is what caught our eye.  The space is painted with remarkable detail: everything from Mrs Saithwaite’s hat and dress to the polychrome Turkish carpet is shown with exacting care.  The giltwood chair on the lefthand side of the painting, partially covered by draped fabric, bears remarkable similarity to the giltwood gadrooned chair attributed to John Cobb in our collection.

A Pair of George III Carved Giltwood Armchairs attributed to John Cobb Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A Pair of George III Carved Giltwood Armchairs attributed to John Cobb
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

We wrote about this exceptional pair of chairs in a recent post – have a look here to learn more.

It is always interesting to see painted depictions of Georgian life to get an understanding of how the furniture sat within an interior.

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