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Core Record

Title The Music Party
Alternative Title A Musical Party on a Terrace
Collection Towner Art Gallery and Local Museum, Eastbourne
Artist Aken, Joseph van (Flemish painter, ca. 1699-1749, active in England)
Date Earliest about 1720
Date Latest about 1730
Description This painting represents a group of men and women united in the pursuit of music. The figures embody harmony, not only in the music they create, but also in their elegant costumes and gestures, which also convey their position in elite society. In its depiction of a group of people enjoying a shared activity, this painting exemplifies the 'conversation piece' genre of portraiture, which was becoming popular in Britain in the 1720s. The pursuit of music was a popular theme in early eighteenth-century paintings executed in the emerging Rococo style, and often features in the work of Antoine Watteau.
Current Accession Number EASTG:1554
Subject figure; buildings and gardens; landscape; everyday life
Measurements 75.0 x 62.3 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Irene Law 1976.
Publications S. West., 'Joseph van Aken' in J. Turner. (ed.), The Dictionary of Art, London, 1996, vol. 1, p.504; Public Catalogue Foundation, Oil Paintings in Public Ownership in East Sussex, London, 2005, ill. p. 224.

West (1996) dated The Music Party to about 1725. The costume and the genre also indicate that the work was created between 1720 and 1730.

According to Waterhouse, conversation pieces were produced in Holland and France in the seventeenth century, and it was through artists like Aken that the form became popular in England in the 1720s. He also describes how the conversation piece in England reflected the development of the middle class. With their growing wealth, the middle classes desired smaller-scale portraits that would fit into their houses. See E. Waterhouse., Painting in Britain 1520-1790, Baltimore, 1994.

Rights Owner Towner Art Gallery and Local Museum
Author Bryony Bartlett-Rawlings



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