Interactions between people form some of the most interesting paintings and drawings in the collection. Bustling streets, rural idylls and intimate interiors all offer stories to explore and insights into different societies over the centuries.
We have many examples of ‘genre’ paintings, or scenes of everyday life. Genre painting mainly developed in Holland in the 17th century. The most typical subjects were scenes of peasant life or drinking in taverns, and tended to be small in scale. Simpler genre painting emerged in the later 18th century and became hugely popular in the Victorian age.
Similar is the conversation piece, an informal group portrait popular in the 18th century. These show groups of people in domestic interiors or gardens. People are often shown interacting with each other or with pets, taking tea or playing games.
Explore the highlights below which includes romantic encounters, political stand-offs and a good bit of gossip!