Philippe Mercier (French, 1689-1760)
Bacchanalian piece: Sir Thomas Samwell and Friends, c. 1733
oil on canvas
Gift of The Beaverbrook Foundation
All the residents in the gallery call this painting The Party-Goers, because they’ve been having a party since 1733.
Even though they drink a lot of wine, they are the nicest gentlemen. On the far left is Sir Thomas Samwell, then John Neal, Captain John Floyd, William Wilmer, William Piers, and Caesar, who started out as Sir Thomas’ servant, but after about six months in the painting, became everyone’s friend and now sits at the table once the visitors go home. Last but not least, is General Louis deJean, who everyone calls the guitar general.
I like everyone in this painting, but I must confess: I can’t keep the two Williams straight!
One thing you may have noticed amongst the older paintings is that almost none of them contain people of colour. That’s because only rich people could afford to have their portraits painted. Newer paintings do a much better job of representing different races and situations.