Nathaniel Dance (1735-1811), the society portraitist, and George Dance (1741-1825), the architect, were both founder members of the royal Academy. These comic drawings represent a convergence of two brothers with otherwise very different careers. This has and still does cause considerable confusion in attribution. For both men, the comic and satirical drawings were essentially diversions. Nathaniel’s earliest known example roughly coincides with his retirement as a professional artist. George, the more prolific of the comic draughtsmen, is known to have amused his friends and patrons with his humorous sketches. It is generally accepted that the drawings of both brothers were assembled into albums, either by George, late in life, or by one of his descendants, and in the process signatures and inscriptions were added. Four mixed albums were sold by Christie’s in 1912 and have been subsequently dispersed, leaving only one intact, which was purchased directly from a member of the Dance family by the Royal academy.
The Shakespearean illustrations such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream and other comparable subjects have been attributed to George Dance.
GEORGE AND NATHANIEL DANCE
Two Figures - Torso with Face and Head with Legs
Pencil and grey wash on paper, 8 x 11 3/16 inches
Probably executed about 1800
Two Men, One with Pistol, and Duck
Pen, ink and watercolor on paper, 5 15/16 x 10 1/4 inches(first as Davis Galleries; then as Davis & Long Company)
DAVIS & LANGDALE COMPANY, INC.
231 EAST 60 STREET
NEW YORK, NY 10022