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An Elegant Society: Adam Buck, Artist in the Age of Jane Austen, exhibition dedicated to the works of the Regency portrait and miniature painter Adam Buck, opened last weekend at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

The work of Adam Buck, whose artworks Jane Austin enthusiasts know better than most, provides a fascinating insight into the faces and fashions of this time. Buck’s portraits of The Royals, landowners, Serving Officers and society hostesses, dressed in white muslin, seated or standing in fashionable interiors, brings the world of Jane Austen vividly to life.

Born in 1759 in Cork to a family of silversmiths, Buck practised for some years in his native city, painting miniatures and soon progressed to larger watercolour portraits. After working in Cork and Dublin, Buck left Ireland for London in 1795 and began a long and prolific career as a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy, immediately gaining a roster of star clients including the Duke of York and his scandalous mistress, Mary Anne Clarke. He also exhibited at the British Institution and the Society of British Artists.

Buck was busily employed not only at his work as a miniature painter but as a teacher of portraiture, and in drawings of fancy figure subjects from which the now well-known and sought for stipple engravings were done.

This summer exhibition celebrates Adam Buck’s influence on Georgian art and style, showing over sixty works from private collections including watercolours, small portraits and miniatures; examples of his decorative designs for porcelain and fans; and his prints.

Mr Peter Darvall, Guest Curator, says: ‘I hope, with this exhibition and monograph on Adam Buck’s work, to bring his art to the attention of a wider audience. Buck was a hugely influential artist during his own time and his elegant portraits of royalty and officers, and his charming illustrations of Georgian life and manners have had an enduring impact on the popular imagination of Regency society.’

An Elegant Society: Adam Buck, artist in the age of Jane Austen
16 July–4 October 2015
Ashmolean Museum