Elizabeth Kathleen Mitchell, Ph.D., Burton and Deedee McMurtry Curator and Director of the Curatorial Fellowship Program, Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University: Auction houses in the 18th century were spaces for seeing fine art and being seen by rich and fashionable people. This James Gillray caricature focuses on the Irish-born actress Elizabeth Farren and her husband, Edward Smith-Stanley, the 12th Earl of Derby. They are viewing paintings at Christie’s, the London auction house founded by James Christie in 1766. The tall and slender Farren looks at a subject taken from antiquity, the courtesan Phryne attempting to seduce the philosopher Zeoncrates. Farren’s squat and uncouth husband, still wearing his riding spurs, admires a picture nearer to his heart: a rustic scene with a hunter showing off his kill.
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Use for representations, often portraits, that exaggerate certain features or characteristics to humorous or ludicrous effect. [April 1991 descriptor moved.]
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