Artists Illustrating Boys' Fashions: John Opie (England, 1761-1807)



Figure 1.--This is the Scottish Brodie familly which John Opie painted about 1805. The boy is William Brodie who would the 22nd Laird of Brodie with his siblings. We are not sure yet who their parents were. William wears a bright red skeleton suit. All the other children wear Empire drsses, both wjite and colored. We are guessing that some of the younger children are boys. Notice that even though thy are a Scottish Higland familu,there is no plaid in sight. William's sons, however, were all dressed in plsid, both plaid dresses and kilts. It is a good example of how populr plaid became in the mid-19th century.

John was born at Mithian, near St Agnes, Cornwall (1761). He was a child prodigy, was discovered by the political satirist John Wolcot (Peter Pindar). Walcot launched Opie's career in London as an untutored genius (1780s). Walcot called him the ‘The Cornish Wonder’. It is remarable the quality of his work without any professional training. Opie paintied strongly modelled portraits and rustic albeit fancy pictures. His work is notable for Rembrandtesque lighting. Almost all of his worls are bust portraits, but we notice one family portrait, the Brodie family about 1805. It is a rare Opie work that was not a bust portrait. Opie's style emphasizing dramatic lighting was seen as bold and new, reflecting his working-class origins. He painted severa boys including sme genre work.






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Created: 3:52 AM 12/12/2017
Last updated: 3:52 AM 12/12/2017