Collection Online
The Pybus family
oil on canvas
142.8 × 140.2 cm (image) 144.0 × 142.3 cm (canvas)
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 2003
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
17th to 18th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

This painting depicts John Pybus (1727–1789), his wife Martha Pybus (1733–1802), and their four children – Martha holding a ribbon-trimmed hat, Anne savouring a rose’s scent, John Pybus Junior seated on the ground before his sisters, and Charles Small Pybus standing on his mother’s lap. It can be dated to around 1769, based on the ages of the children.

John Pybus commenced his employment with the East India Company in 1742, at the tender age of fifteen. During the next two decades he worked at various East India Company appointments in India and Indonesia, returning permanently to England with his family in 1768. In 1769, Nathaniel Dance had exhibited full-length portraits of the ruling monarchs, George III and Queen Charlotte, at the newly founded Royal Academy. John Pybus’ choice of the fashionable Dance as artist, indicates both his social aspirations and the wealth he had accrued abroad.


English, 18th century

Nathaniel Dance’s portrait group The Pybus Family, c.1760, came to the collection with the original eighteenth century English frame in the Carlo Maratta style. The painting had remained with descendants of the family portrayed in the painting until acquired in 2003 by the NGV.

The frame is hand carved timber, with ribbon-and-stick moulding to the interior of the top edge and acanthus leaf and shield ogee ornament at the sight edge.
Many frames of this type were produced in Britain from the 1750's to the 1790's, and were particularly popular in the 1760's and 1770's.

Repairs were made to the frame and the painting cleaned and restored in 2003.

Unknown - 18th century

carved timber and gold leaf