Johan Zoffany (1733-1810) was born in Germany and trained in Italy but arrived in Britain as an unknown artist in 1760. However, through his artistic and networking skills, he rapidly became one of the country’s leading portrait painters, gaining several commissions from the royal family. We will explore the reasons for his rise to prominence, as he reinvigorated the conversation piece as a mode of portraiture. His subsequent career, which included extended spells working in Italy and in India, was marked by ups and downs, as artistic fashions shifted. Amongst his many experiences, he may even have been ‘the first and last Royal Academician to become a cannibal’!
Prasannajit De Silva is a published art historian and University Lecturer at the University of London, an accredited speaker for the Arts Society, and a sessional lecturer for the WEA. His specialism is British visual culture of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
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