In a June 2012 interview in The Daily Telegraph the art critic Brian Sewell recalled that “As a child, there was not a major museum or art gallery in London I didn’t know, and the National Gallery was my favourite.” Indeed these were weekly visits and so it will not come as a surprise that he left a painting to the Gallery.
The painting Maternal Affection is by the French artist Louis-Jean-François Lagrenée (1724-1805) and is the only example of his work in a national collection. There are eleven other examples of his oeuvre at Stourhead and the Bowes Museum. The style of this painting reflects Lagrenée’s admiration for 17th century Bolognese artists, especially Guido Reni.
The Gallery’s Curator of Post-1800 Paintings and acting Curator of 18th century French Painting, Christopher Riopelle sums the gift up saying: “The painting is a beautifully preserved oil on copper of exquisite refinement which allows the National Gallery for the first time to show the work of an artist who was hugely admired by the most discriminating connoisseurs and collectors of contemporary French art, both French and foreign, in the final decades of the 18th century.”
It hangs in Room 33 alongside the Gallery’s other 18th century French pictures.