The fascination of house fronts: Where We Live at Millennium Gallery reviewed

Paintings of houses go back a long way in British art: the earliest landscape in Tate Britain is a late 17th-century view of an estate in Belsize Park by the inventor of the country-house portrait, Jan Siberechts. The genre quickly became déclassé. By the 18th century Thomas Gainsborough was painting peasant cottages; by the 20th, Algernon Newton had turned his attention to middle-class villas on London’s canals. Not made for the owners of the houses they depicted, these paintings were destined to decorate the walls of strangers: the householders might not even know the pictures had been ‘taken’. A commissioned house portrait has legitimacy; a non-commissioned one feels like an