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oil painting

© Geffrye Museum, London

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Portrait of Mary and George Michael Moser with a dog, oil on canvas, by Carl Marcus Tuscher, c.1741-43, in a gilt frame with moulded decoration.
Object type: oil painting
Object number: 70/1979

More Information:

Detailed Description: +/-

Title/Model: Portrait of George Michael Moser and his wife Mary (descriptive title)
Physical Description:
Oil on canvas painting, in a gilded picture frame decorated with scrollwork cartouches.
Materials & technique: oil on canvas in a gilded picture frame
Dimensions: Height 95cm (frame)
Width 96cm (frame)
Height 72.5cm (view)
Width 73cm (view)

History: +/-

Date: c.1741-1743 (painted)
Period: Georgian (1714-1837)
Artist/Maker Names: Carl Marcus Tuscher (artist)
Associated Names Mary Moser
George Michael Moser
Object History:
This painting appeared in the exhibition Home and Garden Part One, 1675-1830 at the Geffrye Museum (16 September 2003-18 January 2004), and in the publication Home and Garden: paintings and drawings of English, middle-class, urban domestic spaces, 1675 to 1914, edited by David Dewing (London: Geffrye Museum, 2003). This painting was catalogued by David Dewing (catalogue number 5, pp.24-25). See the Comments field for extracts from the catalogue entry for this painting.

The painting depicts George Michael Moser (1704-1783), a Swiss émigré who became the leading gold chaser and enamellist of his day, with his wife Mary, in a garden setting. The couple married in 1730 and from 1737 they lived in Craven Buildings on Drury Lane, London, an area well-known for its artists and skilled craftsmen. Moser was instrumental in establishing the Royal Academy, and was elected its first Keeper in 1768.

It has been suggested that this painting is a studio portrait, with the garden shown in the background similar to a stage set. Carl Marcus Tuscher was a German artist and architect, working in London from 1741 to 1743. Portraits set in real gardens were becoming very fashionable during the 1740s and 1750s, offering sitters an opportunity to demonstrate their power and possessions, but also their personality. See Roy Strong, The Artist in the Garden, Yale University Press, 2000, pp.60-81. The figures are wearing fashionable, expensive clothes, but are not dressed for a formal occasion; they are in 'undress'. The choice of objects depicted in the painting may have a symbolic meaning; the greyhound could represent fidelity, the fruit and flowers may suggest that Mary Moser was expecting a child; the couple's daughter Mary was born in 1744. The richness of the figures' clothing, and the garden setting which implies the sitters are landowners or members of the gentry, may suggest the sitters' awareness and mastery of the conventions of portraiture to suggest their high social standing.

Recent discussion has suggested that the flowers have a symbolic meaning; their prominence, both in the basket, in the woman's hand and on the floor suggest this is an area that would merit further research. Similarly, the obvious line of the backdrop in the midground may be significant; there is little attempt on the artist's part to disguise the fact that the garden scene is an impression of a landscape.

There are two sketches of this painting in vol. 1 (1858) and vol. 50 (1865) of Sir George Scharf's notebooks in the National Portrait Gallery archive. Sir George Scharf (1820-1895) was the first Director of the National Portrait Gallery.

It is unclear from the acquisition record if the picture was already framed when it was purchased in 1979.
Display Labels:
Label text, Geffrye Museum, date unknown:
George Michael Moser and his Wife Mary. Carl, Marcus Tuscher, 1741-1743. Oil on canvas.
References:
Home and garden: paintings and drawings of English, middle-class, urban domestic spaces, 1675 to 1914, edited by David Dewing (London: Geffrye Museum, 2003)

John Hayes, The Portrait in British Art: Masterpieces bought with the help of the National Art Collections Fund (London: National Portrait Gallery, 1991)

Jeffery Daniels, 'A Newly Identifed Portrait of George Michael Moser', National Art Collections Fund Magazine (Summer 1985) 10-12.

Brian Allen, 'Carl Marcus Tuscher: A German Artist in London', Apollo, 122 (July 1985), 34-35.

Roy Strong, The Artist in the Garden (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000)

Sketch of picture in Sir George Scharf's Notebook (S.S.B.vol. 1 and vol. 50), 1858 and 1865, National Portrait Gallery Archive.

Subject/Content: +/-

Content Description:
This portait depicts George Michael Moser and his wife in a formal garden with mature trees, set with statuary, including a bust, and stone seating. The male figure is depicted on the left hand side of the painting, standing and leaning on the stone ledge. He wears a blue gown, known as a banyan, lined in pink. The female figure is seated, and wears a fine silk dress trimmed with blue silk bows, a lace cap also trimmed with blue, and a lace fichu or kerchief around her neck. She holds a book and a rose. There is a basket of fruit beside her on the stone bench, and a greyhound.
Themes:
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