'Mr and Mrs Atherton', Arthur Devis, c.1743
This portrait was once thought to have commemorated the couple's wedding in 1730. Now however, it is believed to date from the following decade.
William Atherton (died 1745) was an Alderman and Mayor of Preston and a friend of the artist's father. Conversation pieces - family group portraits in informal, domestic settings - were a distinctive feature of 18th century painting. The furniture shown in this work is almost certainly the Atherton's own. The rather palatial room and grand garden, however, are probably inventions. Additions such as these were designed to exaggerate the sitters' social standing.