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Portrait and history painter; born near Frankfurt, he worked for most of his life in England, visiting Italy and India. He was especially known for his masterly conversation pieces and theatre scenes. One of the most celebrated painters of the eighteenth century, the German-born Zoffany came to London in 1760. This self-portrait painted a year after his arrival shows him in a pensive moment with his 'porte-crayon' (pencil) and portfolio of drawings. This imagery relates to Zoffany's ambitions at a time when the actor David Garrick was helping him launch his career. With Garrick's enouragement, Zoffany invented a new kind of theatrical portrait which became widely known through prints. This increased his following among fashionable society and royalty and from the 1760s to 1780s he became one of the leading painters of conversation pieces and portraits.
Johan Joseph Zoffany
oil on canvas
H 52.7 x W 41.3 cm