New Book | ‘Muilman, Crokatt, and Keable’ by Gainsborough, ca. 1750
My heading is something of a misnomer. This publication isn’t a codex and doesn’t work the way even a digital book typically does. And yet, it also is different from a collection of essays, such as one finds in a journal (whether with paper or digital formats). I don’t think we (yet) have a name for this sort of publication. Perhaps it’s simply a catalogue, but that seems to suggest something grander than this entirely focused scope. I would welcome suggestions. Looking too casually at the Tate’s website where the publication is hosted, one might think it comparable to the sorts of entries often available on museum websites. And it may be akin in some ways, but it is conceived as a coherent, discreet publication, complete with an editor and peer review. The default word (for almost everything) now seems to be ‘project’. Whatever we call it, I’m looking forward to using it in class later this spring. –CH
John Chu, ed., “A Tate In Focus Project: Peter Darnell Muilman, Charles Crokatt and William Keable in a Landscape c. 1750, by Thomas Gainsborough, ca. 1750,” with essays by John Chu, Huw David, Hannah French, Alexandra Gent, Rebecca Hellen, and Peter Moore, and a recording and interview by Hannah French (London: Tate Research Publication, 2017).
Offering a multi-disciplinary discussion of Gainsborough’s early triple portrait, this project considers the painting as a depiction of polite and refined society, as a reflection of the growing wealth of a global mercantile elite, and as a ‘painting within a painting’ by an artist as renowned for his landscapes as he was his portraiture.
The mid-eighteenth-century ‘conversation piece’ Peter Darnell Muilman, Charles Crokatt and William Keable in a Landscape was painted by Thomas Gainsborough (1727–1788) when he was still making a name for himself as landscape and portrait painter. It was acquired jointly by Gainsborough’s House and Tate in 1993 and is regarded as a masterpiece of this early phase of his career. This project draws together expertise from the fields of art history, conservation, history of commerce and musicology to throw light on the social and cultural milieu that gave rise to the commission. It asks as many questions about the financial and social privileges of the portrait’s sitters as it does about Gainsborough himself, proposing new ways of understanding why Muilman, Crokatt and Keable presented themselves making music in the midst of a remote rustic landscape.
C O N T E N T S
• John Chu—The Painting and ‘Early Gainsborough’
• Huw David—Patronage: Mercantile Sitters
• Rebecca Hellen and Alexandra Gent—Painting the Picture
• John Chu—Portraiture, Conversation, Politeness
• Hannah French—Music, Refinement, Masculinity
• Hannah French and John Chu,—Baroque Flute Recording and Interview with Hannah French
• John Chu—Landscape, Imitation, Cosmopolitanism
• Peter Moore—Mercantile Culture and National Identity
John Chu, Assistant Curator, Pictures and Sculpture, National Trust
Huw T. David, Director of Development, Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford
Rebecca Hellen, Paintings Conservator, Tate
Alexandra Gent, Paintings Conservator, Tate and Courtauld Institute of Art
Hannah French, musicologist and baroque flautist, Royal Academy of Music
Peter Moore, Research Curator, Gainsborough’s House