Menu Login Ticket basket   Search
A Fishing Party

A Fishing Party

In a timeless setting, a family group have taken their stick-backed chairs to enjoy the fresh air of a day spent fishing by a lake. A warm sunlit glow illuminates the group, where the young child delights in holding the end of a fishing rod. The seated woman holds the bait that has drawn the attention of the family dog at her feet. While the seated male figure in the shadows on the left appears disconnected, X-rays have since revealed that the fishing line originally extended over to his hands, ready to rebait the hook. In the background, a figure in the punt appears to be struggling with the pole, putting him and his companion in a precarious position, adding a subtle touch of humour.

Known as a ‘conversation piece’ – a small-scale portrait set outdoors – the painting depicts a family group, probably the ancestors of the Manners-Sutton family who owned the work in the nineteenth century. Including an activity, such as fishing, in the composition brings all the characters together, providing an informal snapshot of family dynamics. This interplay is captured here by English artist William Hogarth (1697-1764). The setting and characters are very similar to the French style of painting known as fête galantes, championed by Antoine Watteau (1684-1721) and much admired by Hogarth. Watteau created staged and idealised scenes against backdrops of feathery trees and blue skies, similar to the setting shown here. There is an irony to Hogarth’s imitation of Watteau’s style, as his xenophobic views were well documented.

Not currently on display

William Hogarth
54.9 x 48.1 cm
Oil on canvas
Fairfax Murray Gift, 1911
Accession number
Adopted in memory of Jean Wells, 2003