The Painter's Family
  • Date: 1776
  • Object Type: Miniature
  • Medium: Gouache on ivory
  • Sight size: 8.9 x 10.9 cm
  • Border size: 15.6 x 17.6 cm
  • Inv: M186
  • Location: Not on display
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Further Reading
  • Peter Adolf Hall was one of the most important European miniature painters of the eighteenth century. He almost exclusively painted portraits, but also produced a small number of works in enamels, oils, pastels, large-scale gouaches and watercolours. Hall’s fame was based on the animated and natural character of his portraits and on his brilliant loose brushwork, using the more painterly qualities of contemporary easel paintings for traditionally more meticulous miniatures. Through this stylistic device, miniatures gained a new immediacy and a sketch-like character very much in keeping with the taste of the third quarter of the eighteenth century.

    This portrait of the painter’s wife, sister-in-law and daughter is often considered Hall’s masterpiece. It shows his wife Adelaïde née Gobin (1752–1832), holding probably their second daughter Lucie, born in 1774. Adelaïde’s younger sister, Marie-Victoire, the comtesse de la Serre, holds a rattle and teething stick for the child. The miniature in the Wallace Collection is one of the most brilliant examples of Hall’s portraiture, his most ambitious group portrait and an outstanding example of the free brushwork lauded by his contemporaries.

    The importance of the piece is reflected in the high price of 19,000 francs that Richard Wallace paid for it when he bought the miniature in 1872. Before then, it can be traced back through several Parisian nineteenth-century collections. The Wallace Collection preserves the most important group of Hall’s works after the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and the Louvre.