by John Kay
etching and aquatint, 1786
4 3/8 in. x 3 7/8 in. (111 mm x 98 mm) plate size; 11 in. x 8 1/8 in. (279 mm x 206 mm) paper size
Given by Henry Witte Martin, 1861
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Sitterback to top
- John Kay (1742-1826), Miniature painter and caricaturist. Sitter in 4 portraits, Artist associated with 287 portraits.
Artistback to top
- John Kay (1742-1826), Miniature painter and caricaturist. Artist associated with 287 portraits, Sitter in 4 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This self-portrait shows Kay near the start of his artistic career. He has depicted himself in a thoughtful posture in an antiquated chair, to represent his love of antiquities, with a bust of the Greek poet Homer and his painting utensils on the table. With him is his favourite cat - the largest, he believed, in Scotland.
His widow later complained that he would too readily 'quit his lucrative employment in miniature drawing, in order to commit some freak of his fancy to copper, for which, perhaps, no profit was to be hoped for'.
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1786back to top
Current affairsPhilosopher and politician Edmund Burke instigates impeachment proceedings against Warren Hastings, former Governor-General of Bengal after concerns about the moral standards of the British in India are raised.
Prime Minister William Pitt appoints commissioners for the reduction of the national debt and establishes a sinking fund of £1 million a year.
Government approves the establishment of a penal colony at Botany Bay.
Art and scienceRobert Burns publishes Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect bringing him immediate success across the country.
Engraver and publisher John Boydell initiates plans for his Shakespeare Gallery in an effort to establish a school of British history painting.
Merchant David Dale establishes New Lanark in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, as a model cotton milling community.
InternationalGeneral Charles Cornwallis succeeds Warren Hastings as Governor-General in India.
Composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Marriage of Figaro premieres in Vienna.
Francisco Goya is appointed court painter to the Spanish king Charles III.