GEORGE III IN WAX

A Catalogue of the Pictures, Sculptures, Models, Designs in Architecture, Drawings, Prints, &c. Exhibited by the Society of Artists of Great-Britain, at their New Room, near Exeter-Exchange, Strand. April the twenty-fifth, 1774, the fifteenth Year of exhibiting …

Printed by Harriot Bunce, Printer to the Society. 1774.

Folio, pp. 33, [1]; dust soiling to final leaf and light foxing to title-page but a very good copy, uncut, stab-sewn as issued.

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First edition. The Society of Artists emerged in 1760 as a loose association of artists, including Joshua Reynolds and Francis Hayman, who wanted greater control over exhibitions of their work than they experienced under William Shipley’s Society of Arts (est. 1754). They held an alternative exhibition in London, May 1761, and in 1765 obtained a Royal Charter as the ‘Incorporated Society of Artists of Great Britain’. Factionalism led ultimately to further divisive split and to the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1769, but the Society of Artists continued its schedule of exhibitions until 1791.

The catalogue entries, which are listed in alphabetical order by artist, are dominated by scenic panoramas from the domestic ‘A view in St. James’s Park’, to the far flung ‘A view in Iceland wherein is introduced the various habits of the Natives’, and works inspired by the classics, ‘Marius on the ruins of Carthage’, alongside more esoteric submissions such as ‘a figure weeping, in human hair’, and a ‘model of his majesty, [George III] in wax’. Literary subjects such as ‘A portrait of Doctor Goldsmith in miniature’ and ‘The Honorable Mr. Damer, [copied] from Sir Joshua Reynolds’ reveal a little of the artistic fashions of the day.

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