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Portraits as a window to interior design in 18th century Britain

August 28, 2003|Lisa Boone

"Pictures in Private: British Portraiture in Domestic Spaces, 1680 to 1830," an intimate exhibition of small-scale portraits displayed in homes at that time, demonstrates that decorating hasn't changed too much in 300 years.

The exhibition includes about 100 drawings, mezzotint prints and miniatures that provide insight into the roles portraiture played in 18th century British interior design. Portraits served as personal memorials, fashionable decorations and expressions of political affiliation much as they do today. The installation re-creates several popular modes of display, capturing the intimate feel of a domestic setting and providing insight into how collectors constructed meaning for these objects.

Featured portraits include actor David Garrick (a celebrity of the day) and the Duke of Marlborough, as well as Edward Fisher's 18th century print of Sir Joshua Reynolds' 1759 painting of courtesan Kitty Fisher.

"Pictures in Private" runs through Sept. 28 at the Huntington Library, Art Collection & Botanical Gardens, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino. Tuesdays through Sundays, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. $5 to $12.50. (626) 405-2100.

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