A Theatrical Masterpiece Rediscovered by Johan Zoffany: London

1 - 16 December 2022

Moretti Fine Art is pleased to announce A Theatrical Masterpiece by Johan Zoffany which will be on display at the London gallery at 13 Duke Street, St. James’s, 1 – 16 December 2022. 

The exhibition marks the significant rediscovery of the portrait of the actor Edward Townsend by Johan Zoffany (1733– 1810). Long considered lost, the painting was only identified a decade ago and has not been exhibited in public since 1893. The portrait remained in Zoffany’s possession until his death and has only changed ownership three times in its 225-year history; something which accounts for its exceptional state of preservation and the retention of its original eighteenth-century frame. 

Recent technical examination carried out at The Courtauld Institute of Art has revealed that Zoffany reused the panel three times. An X-radiograph and infrared reflectograph show two underlying portraits, implying that the panel remained in the painter’s possession for some time. The exhibition at Moretti Fine Art will present this ground-breaking research for the first time. 

Marking the painting’s display there will be a talk at Moretti Fine Art on ‘Zoffany and the Theatre’, hosted by Moretti and The Burlington Magazine, on Monday 5 December. Letizia Treves, senior partner at Moretti Fine Art, will be in conversation with Dr Martin Postle, Senior Research Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre and curator of the 2012 Zoffany exhibition at the Royal Academy, and Dr Robin Simon, Editor of The British Art Journal and author of a forthcoming book Shakespeare, Hogarth and Garrick: Plays, Painting and Performance (to be published by Paul Holberton Publishing, April 2023). 



Moretti Fine Art 

13 Duke Street, St. James's

London SW1Y 6DB



Opening hours


Monday to Friday

10am - 6pM




12Pm - 5PM