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Title The Morse and Cator Family
Collection Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Artist Zoffany, Johann (German painter, 1733-1810, active in England)
Date Earliest probably 1783
Date Latest probably 1784

Robert Morse is shown playing the cello; his sisters Anne Francis and Sarah are seated at the harpsichord and Sarah's husband, William Cator, stands on the right. This picture was painted in India, although the formal trappings of the setting are conventionally British. The fine costumes and elegant interior reveal an age of gracious living.

Robert Morse was Advocate of the Supreme Court and Sheriff of Calcutta from 1783- 1784. As the portrait was painted in India, it is very likely that this occurred at some point in these two years.

Current Accession Number ABDAG003018
Former Accession Number 53.2
Subject portrait (Morse and Cator family); everyday life; interior
Measurements 110.2 x 100.1 cm cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Purchased with income from the Webster Bequest in 1953.
Provenance Mrs Anna Frances Middleton (née Morse); by descent to Mr Middleton 1920; F. Hastings sale, Sotheby's, London, 1952, lot 46.
Principal Exhibitions Zoffany, National Portrait Gallery, London, 1977, cat. no. 101.
Publications Manners, Lady V. and Williamson, Dr G.C., John Zoffany, R.A.: his Life and Works 1735-1810 London, 1973, p. 111, pl. 110, Victoria and Albert Museum; Archer, Dr M., India and British Portraiture 1770-1825, London, 1979; Kendall, A., Music: its Story in the West, Weidenfield, 1980 (Reproduced); Fowkes Tobin, B., Picturing Imperial Power: Colonial Subjects in Late Eighteenth-century British Art, Honolulu, 1997; Leppert, R., and McClary, S. (eds), Music and Society: The Politics of Composition, Performance and Reception, Cambridge University Press, 1989.

There are four portraits in the painting: Robert Morse is playing the cello; Anne Frances Morse (Mrs Middleton) sits at a harpsichord; her sister Sarah Morse (Mrs Cator) turns the music for her; William Cator os standing with his right hand resting on the harpsichord and his left arm akimbo.

Sarah and William were married in 1780 at St John's Anglican Church, Calcutta, as was Anne, to Nathanial Middleton [she is listed as Anna, not Anne, in the church records].

To learn more about Zoffany in India see: Sir W. Foster, 'Zoffany in India 1703 - 1789', Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, vol. LXXIX, no. 4095, 15 May 1931.

Rights Owner Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums
Author Jennifer Melville



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