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Alexander Pope

7 of 44 portraits of Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope, by William Hoare, circa 1739 - NPG 299 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Alexander Pope

by William Hoare
pastel, circa 1739
23 7/8 in. x 17 3/4 in. (602 mm x 449 mm)
Bequeathed by Charles Townsend, 1870
Primary Collection
NPG 299

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This frame is original to the portrait. It is…

Sitterback to top

  • Alexander Pope (1688-1744), Poet. Sitter associated with 44 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • William Hoare (1707-1792), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 74 portraits, Sitter in 6 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The power of portraits to promote celebrity led many sitters to try to control their image. The poet Alexander Pope suffered from curvature of the spine, probably caused by Pott's disease. Hoare's son told the diarist Joseph Farrington how 'when Pope sat to His Father for a Portrait, he showed anxiety to conceal the deformity of his person, & had a cloak thrown over his shoulders, & when Mr. Hoare was painting that part of the picture He came behind Him & said 'He need not be very particular about the Shoulders'. It is likely that Pope sat to Hoare in his newly-established studio in Bath during a visit in 1739. More detailed information on this portrait is available in a National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue, John Kerslake's Early Georgian Portraits (1977, out of print).

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Kerslake, John, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, p. 214
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 500
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 93

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top

Events of 1739back to top

Current affairs

Foundling Hospital is established in London by sea-captain Thomas Coram, with William Hogarth as a founding governor. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, begins his campaign of outdoor preaching, which he continues until his death in 1791. 'Great Frost': an unusually harsh winter in southern England.

Art and science

Philosopher David Hume anonymously publishes his Treatise of Human Nature, in which he applies the principles of experimental science to the human mind.


War of Jenkin's Ear: Convention of Pardo is held to settle differences with Spain, but Prime Minister Robert Walpole is forced to declare hostilities. At the Battle of Porto Bello, British forces under Admiral Edward Vernon capture the Panamanian town of Porto Bello from the Spanish. Persian ruler Nadir Shah enters Delhi and removes much of the accumulated treasure of the Mughal empire.

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