George Evans (d. 1770) was an interior painter, budding architect and portraitist, and one of the 1766 founding members, along with Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Joseph Wright of Derby, of the Society of Incorporated Artists of Great Britain, a precursor to the Royal Academy. He also counted amongst his circle the illustrious satirical painter William Hogarth, who commissioned Evans to exhibit his works as part of a fundraiser for the construction of the London Foundling Hospital – a building which Evans also helped to decorate.
Evans can be found in a listing in Edward Edwards’ 1808 Anecdotes of Painters who have Resided or Been Born in England, where he is identified as a house painter, portrait painter and [...] member of the private academy at St Martin’s Lane. House painter was meant quite literally – Evans worked as a craftsman under the celebrated architect William Chambers on a number of illustrious houses during the 1750s, including Northumberland, Norfolk and Egremont (Cambridge) House. He also worked on the pagoda at Kew Gardens, and Somerset House, the future home to the Royal Academy.
In addition to his work as an interior designer, Evans is listed as having exhibited a number of works with the Society of Artists, such as a 1761 “drawing and design for a chimney piece” and a 1764 “a (little) boy at play. (Wheeling a Kitten in a barrow). The latter is represented by a similar drawing of a boy with a wheelbarrow in this collection, which may be a preparatory sketch for the now lost finished work.
Like his compatriots Reynolds and Gainsborough, Evans shows a preference for the flowing beauty of the pastoral, while also nodding to Hogarth in his sketches of working class characters. Evans also uses these observations to inform his architectural designs, a handful of which appear in this collection. These drawings are a perfectly formed microcosm of the exciting world of emerging art, design and fashion in eighteenth-century London - a world which Evans himself helped to shape.