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Devis is principally known as a painter of the 'conversation piece', or informal small-scale portrait in domestic surroundings. This picture, however, was painted very early in his artistic career in the years immediately following his apprenticeship to the landscape painter Peter Tillemans (1684–1734), and shows Hornby Hall shortly after it was built in 1735. In the garden can be seen a young couple, Thomas Bennison and Ann Dowbiggin, being presented with a bouquet by the estate gardener on the occasion of moving into their new house. Bennison was a Protestant and his wife Ann was a Catholic. Shortly after the picture was painted Bennison died, and his vast fortune passed to his eleven year old daughter Ann, who had been brought up as a Catholic.
oil on canvas
H 67 x W 113.4 cm (E)
purchased by private treaty at Christie's with the assistance of the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund, 1992