“Highmore’s works include many paintings showing his sympathetic approach to the plight of powerless women … [This is] the first major publication of his work.” The Guardian

“[Basic Instincts] brings Joseph Highmore out of the shadows.” Apollo Magazine

“Highmore (1692–1780) was much more than just a society painter … his connection with the Foundling Hospital alerted him to the inequalities and injustices of his time and to the plight of women and children at the mercy of men who always held the keys … The Angel of Mercy still has the power to shock and, sadly, tells a very modern story.” Kate Chisholm The Spectator

“[Basic Instincts] lifts the veil on the darker aspects of love and sex in Georgian London … this is the first major exhibition of Highmore’s work for more than 50 years and it brings the artist out of the shadow of William Hogarth … In Highmore’s hands, character never slides into caricature.” Caroline Bugler Country Life 

“Jacqueline Riding has written a thoughtful book … [she] convincingly argues that the progress of the children in the [Foundling] hospital’s care is reflected in the subjects of the four large paintings by Highmore, James Wills, Francis Hayman and Hogarth that decorate the Court Room. Her insights are a major contribution to our understanding of this important and influential decorative scheme … [Basic Instincts] is an enlightening show, and proves that Highmore is worthy of a new monographic exhibition.” Hugh Belsey The Burlington Magazine

This is a deeply satisfying book at many levels. It is a model for rethinking what a traditional monographic approach might look like … By the conclusion … most readers will have learned something more about the world of painting in London from the 1720s to the 1740s, and a lot more about an artist who is only now receiving his due. Riding’s treatment of the prints for Pamela is masterful … “[she] offers a compelling account of a “unified and dominant narrative,” uniting the four paintings in the Governors’ Court Room … Her proposal deserves serious engagement … With all of this material in place, Riding finally turns her attention to The Angel of Mercy directly in the closing pages, and this singular painting now seems less like an affront and more like a remarkably daring experiment. Riding cleverly brings the painting into conversation with Highmore’s Hagar and Ishmael and with larger conceptions of virtue, providence, and divine deliverance.” Craig Hanson Journal18

“It is the commonality between high and low that Basic Instincts reveals so well. We aren’t as divided as we think. Highmore scratches away at the veneer of respectability that coats the art of his age, and finds darkness beneath. Regardless of position, everyone has the same capacity for bad behaviour. And unfortunately, as Highmore shows, all too often women bore the brunt of this behaviour.” Rake’s Digress

“The protagonist of The Angel of Mercy is one of the many women painted by portraitist Joseph Highmore, the artist that, with his powerful art, brought feminine vulnerability to the canvas, as well as exploring the attitudes during the Georgian era towards love, sexuality and desire … But Joseph Highmore … was also a painter of tender portraits, depicting mothers, friends, children and relatives, a testimony to his versatile talent.” Samantha De Martin

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