Basic Instincts : Love, Lust and Violence in the Art of Joseph Highmore
Published to coincide with the exhibition at the Foundling Museum in London, this book shines a light on Joseph Highmore (1692-1780), an artist of status and substance in his day, who is now largely unknown. It takes as its focus Highmore's small oil painting known as The Angel of Mercy (1746, Yale), one of the most shocking and controversial images in 18th-century British art. The painting depicts a woman in fashionable mid-18th-century dress strangling the infant lying on her lap.
The Angel of Mercy has received little attention until now. The book seeks to address this by setting this extraordinary painting within the context of the artist's life and work, as well as broader historical and artistic contexts. The book also includes exploration of examples of Highmore's portraiture, such as his complex, monumental group portrait The Family of Sir Eldred Lancelot Lee as well as analysis of key subject paintings, including the Foundling Museum's Hagar and Ishmael and Highmore's 'Pamela' series, inspired by Samuel Richardson's bestselling novel. Collectively they tackle relevant and highly contentious issues around the status and care of women and children, master/servant relations, motherhood, abuse, abandonment, infant death and murder.
- Author: Jacqueline Riding
- Paperback: 120 pages | 80 colour illustrations
- Date published: September 2017
- Language: English
- ISBN: 978-1911300281
- Product Dimensions: 26.3 x 21.7 cm