Johan Zoffany, R.A.


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Mary Webster

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Universally recognized as a brilliant and gifted 18th-century artist, Johan Zoffany (1733-1810) was regarded by Horace Walpole as one of the three greatest painters in England, along with his friends Reynolds and Gainsborough. Yet he has remained without a detailed study of his life and works, owing to the fascinating and complex vicissitudes of his career, now established from widely scattered sources. From being a late-baroque painter at a German princely court to working under the royal patronage of George III and Queen Charlotte, from his serious interest in Indian life and landscape, developed while living near Calcutta, to his attacks on the bloody progress of the French Revolution, Zoffany created pictures that document with incomparable liveliness the worlds and people among whom he moved.

Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art

Mary Webster was formerly at the Warburg Institute and was curator of the College Art Collections at University College London.

“Mary Webster, formerly…..has devoted many years to studying his varied career. She and Yale University Press have now done him proud with this massive volume of over 700 pages, illustrated superbly by colour plates. —Paul Johnson, Literary Review

“….shown in glorious detail in coloured illustrations….. [This book will] give you a perfect idea of Zoffany’s genius.”—Richard Edmonds, Birmingham Post

“Mary Webster has spent half a lifetime with her fascinating subject and honours him with an encyclopaedic, superbly illustrated book that, even as its end, is reluctant to let him go.”—David Blayney Brown, World Of Interiors

“[Webster] offers a constant stream of information and insight, well selected and structured and elegantly expressed.”—Desmond Shawe-Taylor, Country Life

“This is a fastidious and elegantly produced monograph.”—Francis Russell, The Art Newspaper (Books of the Year)

“Her 700 pages – no stone unturned – are a monument to her diligence and persistence….this is a wonderful book, setting Zoffany in his various scenes so perfectly that we have evocation after evocation of 18th-century society, weaving life into his art, appending illuminating documents, a perfect preparation for the exhibition to be held at the Royal Academy next spring.”—Brian Sewell, Evening Standard (Art Books Of The Year)

"[A] beautiful tome . . . overflowing with new information, insightful interpretations, and interesting arguments. . . . [a] definitive book on the artist."—C.A. Hanson, Choice

“Mary Webster’s Johan Zoffany, 1733-1910, one of the most substantial and beautifully illustrated monographs on an artist (and his times) ever to appear.”—Edward Chaney, The Art Newspaper

Shortlisted for the William M. B. Berger Prize for British History, as given by the Berger Collection Educational Trust and The British Art Journal

Shortlisted for the 2013 Historians of British Art Book Prize in the Pre-1800 category, given by the Historians of British Art.
ISBN: 9780300162783
Publication Date: June 28, 2011
Publishing Partner: Published for the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art
720 pages, 9 3/4 x 11 1/4
100 b/w + 330 color illus.