A Young Gentleman at a Drawing Table

Arthur Devis, 1712 - 1787

A Young Gentleman at a Drawing Table

Arthur Devis 1712 - 1787


Portrait of a young gentleman, situated within a sparsely furnished interior setting, standing forward-facing and leaning against a drawing table. He holds an open book in his right hand and leans with the same arm against the drawing table, to the left of the figure; his left hand is in his waistcoat pocket and he stands with one leg crossed in front of the other. The room has no furniture other than the table; in the background is a fireplace with a landscape painting set into the wall above. The figure wears a blue frock coat, with round cuffs, gold coloured buttons (probably brass) and braided buttonholes, also in gold; he has a matching single-breasted waistcoat and buttoned knee breeches, all of which appear to have been made of a woollen cloth; around his neck he has a stock, frilled shirt ruffles at his wrists, knotted stockings, and cow-heeled black leather shoes with square buckles, which may be inlaid with paste gems. The finely carved, gilt wood frame is contemporary with the painting and is embellished with pierced, scrolled foliage ornamentation.

Display Label

Gallery text panel Face and Place Portraiture and Landscape in the 18th Century A dramatic growth in Britain's wealth during the 1700s brought about an increased demand for art and design. Hundreds of grand houses were built or improved and many were filled with impressive private collections. The prominent display of paintings and decorative arts demonstrated their owners' status and taste. Portraiture became particularly fashionable, leading to rising numbers of 'face painters' and to an increase in the quality of their work. The ability to capture a likeness was most important but artists could also enhance a sitter's image with qualities such as prestige, wisdom or power. New public exhibitions gave artists a shop window and the Royal Academy, founded in 1768, organised the most important annual show. Amid this developing climate of enthusiasm for art, landscape painting also began its remarkable evolution. Landscape arose from a need to accurately record views and was first thought to be of little artistic merit. But as painters grew in confidence during the later 1700s it was treated with more creativity and seriousness, establishing a distinctive tradition in British art.

Object Name

A Young Gentleman at a Drawing Table

Creators Name

Arthur Devis

Date Created



Canvas: 63.5cm x 50.9cm
framed (approx): 83cm x 69.3cm

accession number


Place of creation





oil paint




© Manchester Art Gallery

Fill out my online form.