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Portrait Drawing in Three Generations of the Bacon Family

NORMAN, MATHEW,RONALD (2022) Portrait Drawing in Three Generations of the Bacon Family. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis takes as its subject the substantial group of portrait drawings made by members of three generations of the Bacon family from the last decades of the eighteenth century through until c. 1859. Although this shared practice was initiated by the prominent sculptor John Bacon RA (1740-99), and was continued by his son and fellow sculptor John Bacon Junior (1777-1859), the drawings appear to have been separate from their professional concerns. As such, the Bacons’ portraits are valuable evidence of amateur drawing during the period, and this analysis points to the continued vitality of both the practice itself and the portrait genre specifically.
The Bacons’ close links to evangelicalism in England, particularly in the first two generations, bring their drawings into dialogue with the history of the spiritual revival, particularly as it intersects with historiographies of domesticity and associational activity. The drawings are examined for what they reveal about the emotional and spiritual lives of individuals within the family, with a particular emphasis on Bacon Junior. Read alongside diverse texts, including diaries and wills, the family’s collection of portraits in other media and the architectural settings in which these were deployed, the family’s portrait drawings are identified as records of affective relations as well as vehicles for narratives of gentility and faith. As a register of sociability that extended beyond his kinship network, Bacon Junior’s drawings also point to the scope of his engagement with spiritual, charitable and political causes. Whether analysed in formal terms, or as objects circulating within a kinship network, the Bacons’ portrait drawings offer valuable insights into the ways in which amateur drawing in this period bridged the gap between the public and the private, functioning not only as records of intimacy, but also as a means of fashioning memory and identity within one family over several generations.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:John Bacon Senior, John Bacon Junior, drawing, portraiture, Evangelicalism, friendship, domesticity, associational activity, voluntary activity
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Mar 2022 13:46

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