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The 'Horrible Imaginings' of John Hamilton Mortimer
John Haynes, Death on a Pale Horse, c. 1784. Etching, after Mortimer. Mortimer C. Leventritt Fund, 1972.172.
STANFORD, CALIFORNIA.- The Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University presents a rare opportunity to study the versatile mind of one of 18th-century Britain's most fascinating artists. The 'Horrible Imaginings' of John Hamilton Mortimer, featuring works exclusively from the Cantor Arts Center's collection, opens December 15 and continues through March 27, 2005. Mortimer (1740–1779), a painter, draftsman, and printmaker who enjoyed considerable patronage in his own day, was known for his flamboyant personality, radical politics, and extravagant imagination. He depicted monsters, Shakespearean subjects, and picturesque banditti. He also produced imaginary portraits of famous artists and more conventional images, such as seascapes. Mortimer's interest in emotionally charged subjects, such as Death on a Pale Horse (Revelation 6:8), and in portraying episodes from British literature and history proved as influential as his personal character, which established him as an archetype of the Romantic artist.

The Center acquired its collection of works by Mortimer, as well as works by others after Mortimer's compositions, largely through the local print dealer R.E. Lewis and then other sources over the years. Cantor Arts Center Chief Curator Bernard Barryte selected more than 25 works for this exhibition, which has been made possible by the Lynn Krywick Gibbons Gallery Exhibition Fund.

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