Scene from "Love in a Village", 1767

  • John Zoffany, English, 1733-1810

Oil on canvas

  • Unframed: 40 1/2 × 50 1/2 inches (102.9 × 128.3 cm)
  • 48 1/2 × 57 3/4 × 2 5/8 inches (123.2 × 146.7 × 6.7 cm)

Founders Society Purchase with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Edgar B. Whitcomb


On View

  • British S361


European Painting

  • Religious art
  • Men
  • Theater (discipline)
  • Oil
  • Canvas
  • Figures (representations)
  • Hunter
  • Painting (visual work)
  • Rifle (long gun)
  • England
  • Dog

Zoffany may be considered one of the English theater's earliest historians, for he documented the dramas of his time. Instead of simply posing actors in costume, he informally arranged them on the stage as if during the course of a performance, producing a variation on the popular group portrait style called a "conversation piece." Isaac Bickerstaffe's "Love in a Village" opened at Covent Garden on December 8, 1762, with Edward Shuter, John Beard, and John Dunstall in the cast. Zoffany depicts Beard pronouncing the character's motto: "Health, good humour, and competence." It is unlikely that the subject of the painting on the back wall, the Judgment of Solomon, has any implications for the action: in another version of this scene, the painting is Van Dyck's Children of Charles I.

1767, David Garrick [1717-1779] (London, England). Possibly until 1811, Johan Zoffany [1733-1810] (London, England]. May 9, 1811, possibly sold by (Messrs. Robins, Covent Garden, London, England) auction Zoffany esq. Deceased, lot 97. June 24, 1823, possibly sold by (Christies, London, England) auction a Nobleman, lot 35 [£4.4]

1823, purchased by Pinney at auction. May 24, 1862, sold by (Christie's, London, England) auction the late Thomas Garle, lot 62

1862, purchased by Garle

ca. 1920, by descent to John Acton Garle (Chipstead, Surrey, Great Britain, Collection)

1942, (Frank Partridge, New York, New York, USA)

1946-1947, (Jay Roussuck and Scott & Fowles, New York, New York, USA)

1947-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA) [the painting may have the following provenance] John Beard [1716-1791] (London, England)

1920, by descent through Beard’s nieces to James Daniels (Bath, England)

1923, sold by (Christie's, London, England)

1946-1947, (Jay Roussuck and Scott & Fowles, New York, New York, USA)

1947-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)

Society of Artists of Great Britain. A Catalogue of the Pictures, Sculptures, Models, Drawings, Prints &c. Exhibited by the Society of Artists of Great Britain at the Great Room in Spring Garden. London, 1767, no. 194. Society of Artists of Great Britain. A Catalogue of the Pictures, Sculptures, Designs in Architecture, Models, Drawings, Prints &c. which the Society of Artists of Great Britain have the honor to Exhibit to His Majesty the King of Denmark, at their Room in Spring-Garden, September the thirtieth, 1768. London, 1768, no. 138. [version owned by the Earl of Yarborough, not the Garle version.] Messrs. Robins. Catalogue of a most Curious and Unique Assemblage of the Valuable Property, of that distinguished artist Johan Zoffany Esq. London, May 9, 1811, p. 7, no. 97. Christie Manson & Woods. Catalogue of the Valuable Collection of Ancient and Modern Pictures Formed during Many Years by that well-known Anateur, Thomas Garle Esq. Deceased. London, May 24, 1862, p. 9, no. 62. Catalogue of the Second Special Exhibition of National Portraits. The South Kensington Museum, Exh. cat. London, 1867, p. 136, no. 614. [the YCBA version bears an extant label of the exhibition on the reverse] Manley Place and Park Co. Limited. Catalog of the Preliminary Exhibition of Works of Art. Manchester, 1877, pp. 66–67, no. 368. Graves, Algernon. The Society of Artists of Great Britain 1760–1791, The Free Society of Artists 1761–1783: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and Their Work from the Foundation of the Societies to 1791. London, 1907, p. 291, nos. 1767-194, 1768-138. [listed as Zoffani, 1967 is the Garle version, 1768 is from Yarborough] Manners, Lady Victoria. "Pictures: John Zoffany, R. A. Part II." The Connoisseur (February 1918): 69–74, p. 70 (ill.). Manners, V. and G.C. Williamson. John Zoffany, R.A., His Life and Works. London, 1920, pp. 17, 139, 198, no, 614. Carter, A. C. R. "Forthcoming Sales. Yarborough Collection: World-Renowned Manuscript." The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs 55, no. 316 (July 1929): p. xlv. Gatty, Hugh. "Nots by Horace Walpole, Fourth Earl of Orford, on the Exhibition of the Society of Artists and the Free Society of Artists. 1760–1791." The Volume of the Walpole Society 27 (1938–1939): 55–88, p. 83, no. 1767. French and English Art Treasure of the Eighteenth Century. Exh. cat., Parke-Bernet Galleries. New York, 1942, p. 56, no. 422. Three Centuries of British Art. Exh. cat., Milwaukee Art Institute. Milwaukee, 1946. [lent by E.U. Roussuck] English Conversation Pieces of the Eighteenth Century. Exh. cat., Detroit Institute of Arts. Detroit, 1948, cat. 29. Richardson, Edgar Preston. "Conversation for the Eye." Art News 47 (March 1948): 34–37, p. 36 (ill.). Richardson, Edgar Preston, Edgar Whitcomb, Edsel Ford, K. T. Keller, William Bostick, Robert Tannahill, and Dexter Ferry. "The Arts Commission Annual Report for the Year 1974: Growth of the Collections; Accessions." Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts Annual Report 27, no. 2 (1948): 27–52, pp. 28, 41. Grigaut, Paul. "Zoffany's Love in a Village or 'The Cheerful Man’s A King.'" Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts Annual Report 27, no. 4 (1948): pp. 94–99 (ill.). Pictures Within Pictures. Exh. cat., Wadsworth Atheneum and Addison Gallery of American Art. Hartford and Andover, 1949, no. 49 (ill.). Ross Boase, Thomas Sherrer. The Oxford History of English Art, Vol. 9. Oxford, 1949, pp. xxv, no. 80b, 306. Wallis, Nevile. "General Notes." Journal of the Royal Society of Arts 99, no. 4854 (August 24, 1951): 777–778, p. 777. Detroit Institute of Arts. Catalogue of the Paintings and Sculpture given by Edgar B. Whitcomb and Anna Scripps Whitcomb. Detroit, 1954, p. 47 (ill.). Mander and Mitchenson. The Artist and the Theatre. London, 1955, pp. 29–31. The Century of Mozart. Exh. cat, The Nelson Gallery. Kansas City, 1956, pp. 13, 32, 64, no. 112 (ill.). British Painting in the Eighteenth Century. Exh. cat., Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, et al. Montreal, 1957, cat. 84, p. 125 (ill.). Stanley, Frederick. "Zoffany Looks at the English." The Antique Dealer and Collector's Guide 22, no. 6 (January 1968): p. 48 (ill.). Paulson, Ronald. "Review Essay: Zoffany and Wright of Derby: Contexts of English Art in the Late Eighteenth Century." Eighteenth-Century Studies 3, no. 2 (Winter 1969): 278–295, p. 281. Webster, Mary. Johan Zoffany, 1733–1810. London, 1976, p. 37. Kenney, Shirley S., ed. British Theatre and the Other Arts; 1660–1800. Washington and London, 1984, pp. 155–157, pl. 6. [images switched - Detroit image corresponds to text for pl. 5.] British Painting: 4th May – 2nd June. Exh. cat., Leger Galleries. London, 1989, p. 12, fig. 18 (ill.). West, Shearer. The Image of the Actor: Verbal and Visual Representation in the Age of Garrick and Kemble. New York, 1991, p. 33. Gilman, Todd. "Arne, Handel, the Beautiful, and the Sublime." Eighteenth-Century Studies 42, no. 4 (Summer 2009): 529–555, p. 549, note 23. Pergam, Elizabeth. The Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition of 1857: Entrepreneurs, Connoisseurs, and the Public. London: 2011, p. 317. Ambrosini Massari, Anna Maria. "Johan Zoffany (1733–1810): The Florentine Years and Some Discoveries, Including a Madonna for the Grand Duke." The British Art Journal 16 no. 1 (Summer 2015): 4–15, p. 15, note 55.

John Zoffany, Scene from "Love in a Village", 1767, oil on canvas. Detroit Institute of Arts, Founders Society Purchase with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Edgar B. Whitcomb, 47.398.