Object Image

David Garrick and Mary Bradshaw in David Garrick's 'The Farmer's Return', 1762

Johan Zoffany was a German born neoclassical painted mainly active in England, where he is buried.

His art covers the whole of 18th century society from royalty to cockfighting. He did masterly portraits of great actors in famous roles, of which these are examples. His works appear in many prominent collections, including the Tate, National Gallery and in the Royal Collection.

He has the dubious distinction of being the first and probably last British painter to turn cannibal. He went to India in the 1780s and made a fortune painted Anglo-Indian society. As William Dalrymple tells us in his book 'White Mughals', on his way back to Europe his ship was wrecked in the Andaman Islands and 'lots having been drawn amongst the starving survivors, a young sailor was duly eaten'.

Zoffany lived a bold and varied life, venturing between Germany, Italy, England and India, leaving mistresses and illegitimate children wherever he went.

Oil on canvas
126.8 x 127.0cm
Images and text © Bowes Museum, 2017

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The Bowes Museum
The Bowes Museum
Permanent collection