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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Hogarth

The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977 (now out of print). For the most up to date research on the Collection, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text. This can be accessed by following the link with each portrait’s title.

In consulting the following, please note that apart from the reformatting which allows the printed catalogue to be made available on-line the text is as published in 1977. Footnotes in the original edition are given within square brackets.

Contents Foreword Introduction Catalogue scope Abbreviations Arrangement of entries

William Hogarth (1697-1764)

Painter and engraver; born in London, his father a schoolmaster imprisoned in the Fleet for debt; at seventeen apprenticed to a silversmith but from c.1720 made his own engravings culminating, 1726, in the illustrations to Samuel Butler's Hudibras; studied at Vanderbank's newly founded academy of art and began to paint, in the late 1720s, mainly small heads and conversations, then comic histories and life-size portraits; esteemed, in his lifetime, more as an engraver than a painter, he was a staunch opponent of old and foreign masters; published, 1753, The Analysis of Beauty. Married secretly, 1729, Jane, daughter of Sir James Thornhill, the artist and MP; a governor of the Foundling Hospital, 1739; he was appointed, 1757, sergeant painter to the King.

121 By Louis François Roubiliac, c.1741
Terracotta bust, 28 in. high (711 mm) including base; three-quarter face, pupils incised, near-vertical scar over his right eyebrow, hair brushed behind his left ear, large loose cap with tassel just visible on top; open shirt with collar ribbon hanging down, loose coat fastened by a single button, with frogs and tassels; the base is decorated with a blank shield surmounted by the head of a satyr(?), palette and brushes beneath.

Presumably the bust described by Vertue between 2 June and October 1741: ‘Mr. Rubbilac Sculptor of Marble—besides several works in Marble—moddels in Clay. had Modelld from the Life several Busts or portraits extreamly like .. . Mr. Hogarth very like'. [1] The bust is unique; no marble is known and, due to cost, none is likely to have been made unless commissioned. One of Hogarth's dogs, although not mentioned by Vertue, was also modelled by Roubiliac, [2] possibly at the same time as NPG 121 and certainly by c.1745-47,, the date given on style and workmanship to a copy in Chelsea enamel surviving in the collection of T.G. Burn. A Chelsea white porcelain version, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, is unlikely to be later than 1750. [3]

Three Hogarth dogs, all pugs, can be identified. 'Pugg' was reported missing on 5 December 1730 when its owner advertised a description and offered a reward in The Craftsman [4] :'a light colour'd Dutch DOG, with a black Muzzle'. ‘Trump' named by Ireland [5] and best-known of the artist's pets, is likely to be the terracotta of lot 58 in the posthumous sale of Mrs Hogarth's property (seeHistory) and may also be represented in Hogarth's self-portrait, 1745, in the Tate Gallery. Another pug called Crab, [6] known in the 1750s, is probably the dog painted out in NPG 289 as discussed below.

Condition: a large crack at the base of the neck although, so far as can be judged, the head was never detached; extensive cracks across the shoulders repaired with plaster in-filling; some old terracotta paint removed and re-coloured, 1926; an old break at the front corner, bottom left, of the base was re-attached, 1964.

Collections: purchased, 1861, from W. Baker of 37 Southampton Row. From the collection of the sitter; Nichols, in 1781, refers to it when seen at the Hogarth house in Chiswick: 'His widow has an excellent bust of him by Roubilliac, a strong resemblance', [7] and it was lot 57 ‘. . . Mr. Hogarth, by Roubiliac' in the posthumous sale of her property (she died 1789) from the Golden Head in Leicester Fields, Greenwood's, 24 April 1790. [8] Lot 58, also a bust 'terra coto', described as 'A ditto of the favourite dog, and cast of Mr. Hogarth's hand', was bought by Mr Bindley of the Stamp Office. Known through the Chelsea porcelain version (Victoria and Albert Museum), it was last heard of in the Watson Taylor sale at Erlestoke Park, Wiltshire, 25 July (15th day) 1832, lot 71. The purchaser of lot 57 is given in some copies of the catalogue as 'Finlay', [9] possibly a misreading or the name of an intermediary. The accepted purchaser, as noted in the catalogue owned in 1944 by Martin B. Asscher, was 'Dr. Hunter', presumably the surgeon John Hunter, a near neighbour of the Hogarth’s at 28 Leicester Square since 1783. In the posthumous sale of his property, Christie's, 29 January 1794, it was presumably lot 62 (3rd day), a terracotta bust of 'Mr. Hogarth', bought Samuel Ireland who had it engraved for Graphic Illustrations of Hogarth. By 1809 it was fairly certainly in the possession of George Baker of St Paul's Churchyard, when it was engraved for The Genuine Works of William Hogarth. Inherited by his great-nephew Frederick Herbert Hemming, it next passed to the latter's sister Frances Hemming of St John's Wood who sold it, 4 February 1861, to W. Baker. [10]

Engraved: S. Phillips, frontispiece, Graphic Illustrations of Hogarth, 1799, and again T. Cook, 1809, frontispiece to Genuine Works of Hogarth, II.

Exhibited: 'Prints and Drawings in Honour of the Bicentenary of William Hogarth (1697-1764)', BM 1964-65 (no catalogue published).

289 Self-portrait, ‘Hogarth Painting the Comic Muse', c.1757
Oil on canvas, 17 ¾ x 16 ¾ in. (451 x 426 mm); close shaven head, blue eye, dark grey eyebrow; cap pushed back from forehead, open white shirt, green velvet coat, brown breeches, grey stockings, black shoes with silver buckles; a palette knife in his right hand, palette and brushes in his left; seated in a substantial mahogany armchair; on the easel a canvas with a figure [Comedy] laid-in in white, a book under her right arm and mask in her left hand; dark green background, greenish-brown floor.

A manuscript label (early 19th century?) Portrait of W. Hogarth/ painted by himself probably from the stretcher bar is now in the picture dossier; also in the dossier labels of the 1857, 1862, 1867 and 1868 exhibitions. The white chalk marks of the 1869 sale 252/ July 10/69/50 still visible on back of canvas before relining in 1971.

Hogarth etched the picture seven times from c.1758 to 1764. Following a trial of the head and two undated states, the fourth, and first dated state, is lettered Wm Hogarth SERJEANT PAINTER to His MAJESTY . . . / March 29, 1758. This appointment was made on 16 July 1757. In the etchings, as opposed to NPG 289, the artist's cap nearly covers his ear, a pot and brush have been introduced left of the chair, a book with a loose page from the Analysis of Beauty leans against the easel and there is a volume in an alcove behind. After the fourth state, the artist's expression, like that of the muse, becomes progressively more serious; the mask finally turns into a satyr's head. [11] These differences, however, do not affect the basic design. NPG 289, as we know it, was probably more or less completed by March 1758, with the name presumably deriving from the etchings in which the word 'Comedy' appeared first on the fore-edge of the book held by the muse and, in the last two states, on the base of the pillar. The title line, by the last state, had been contracted simply to William Hogarth –1764.

The phrase 'painting of the comic muse' is probably due to Hogarth's early biographer John Nichols (1745-1826) who first described the painting in the second edition of his Biographical Anecdotes, 1782, [12] when the picture was in the Hogarth house at Chiswick. Nichols' relations with Jane Hogarth, the artist's widow, may well have precluded a personal visit (Adam Walker tended to act as intermediary) and the account may therefore have come from Mrs Hogarth herself. According to Paulson [13] she probably corrected and revised the sheets of Nichols' first edition of the Anecdotes. After noting 'His own portrait, sitting and painting the Muse of Comedy', and various engravings, Nichols continues: 'The original from which this plate is taken, is in Mrs Hogarth's possession at Chiswick. A whole length of herself, in the same size, is its companion. They are both small pictures'. [14] By 1790, at the sale of Mrs Hogarth's property from the house in Leicester Square, the pendant picture had apparently become separated from NPG 289. Lot 48, 'Two portraits of Lady Thornhill and Mrs Hogarth', hardly answer Nichols' description. Nor can it be the life-size half length now in the Rosebery collection, even if rightly named. [15] The title 'Portrait of Hogarth, painting the figure of Comedy' was associated with NPG 289 when it was first exhibited and so catalogued in 1814, at the British Institution exhibition devoted to the works of eminent British painters recently deceased.

At the Camden sale, 1841, it was described as 'Hogarth in the painting room, painting the figure of Comedy'. This is not without interest since detailed examination has lately revealed earlier ideas in which the painting room was considerably larger and the figure of Comedy apparently, at one time, not included. The painting seems to have been finished in its frame, the rectangle of the final composition (16 x 15 in.) stopping about one inch short of the edge of the canvas, some of which was turned over the previous stretcher. On the surface of the completed area itself there is relatively little sign of alteration but a thin line of yellow down the inside of the easel leg indicates a slight shift of position and the cap, as in the etching, looks as if it might once have been pulled down to his ear. However, in the margin beyond the finished surface there are certain passages which the artist has not quite obliterated. These, and others under the surface, were first seen in a preliminary radiograph taken in 1968 and later, more clearly, in 1971. The following discussion relates to findings after the second radiograph. [16] It should be remembered, when interpreting the radiograph, that pigments with a high lead content read whitest (being opaque to x-ray) whereas passages in pigments with low lead content may be undetected.

The radiograph shows Hogarth still in the centre of the picture but the canvas he is working on no longer faces him but is behind, and to the left. The easel on which it stands near the back of the studio is cut at the top and has on it a canvas with a nude figure, or figures, too indistinct to be interpreted. In keeping with the earlier composition, there are indications, albeit blurred, that the sitter's body was more upright and the position of the legs disposed accordingly. He was also perhaps seated on a stool rather than the chair. In the finished version the diagonal lengthening of the coat helps to emphasise the forward-leaning pose and what was probably the right leg is now his left, with the present right leg presumably added to bring the legs towards the spectator and in appropriate relationship to the final placing of the easel. There is no comic muse but instead a model is seen seated on a throne which, in the later version, coincides with the bottom of the canvas on the easel. Painted in a high lead pigment, it comes through strongly on the radiograph, possibly obscuring other details. The model, almost certainly male, has a band below his right knee. The legs appear to be crossed, and may well be, but the right hip is wider than the left and the two halves of the torso do not lie in the same plane. This may represent two separate attempts at the model in profile. The raised arm also suggests alternative positions.

The seated model might conceivably be connected with one of Hogarth's large historical paintings such as Paul before Felix', delivered to Lincoln's Inn in 1748, returned to the artist and retouched in 1751. [17] The pose is, however, not close and, as already stated, it is uncertain whether the legs are in fact crossed. In 1756 Hogarth completed another and even larger biblical history, the altarpiece at St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, but here again it is impossible to trace any clear connection between the one likely figure, a soldier with naked back in the left wing of the altar, and the vague form on the canvas. Nor is there any evidence relating the model to the artist's academic nudes of the 1730s (Oppé, 1948, pls 23-25) or with his composition of Garrick as Richard III, c.1745, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool. The subject, therefore, in the original design, remains unidentified.

Other differences are found in the accessories and background. On the floor below the model, for example, are some unresolved shapes including perhaps drapery surmounted by what looks like the mask of a satyr. To the left, a pug dog lifts a leg over two framed pictures which are, it may be suggested, old masters. At any rate, they are not portraits. There may have been drapery down the left edge of the picture and the line where the floor meets the back wall, in the larger studio, is higher. The continuation of this line, in the left hand margin, is still visible. Dark shapes on the back wall suggest small pictures or prints. All of the above has been painted out.

The evolution of the composition, a painting super-imposed on an earlier idea, may lie not only in the artist's wish to simplify the design but also in his decision to present a less provocative image of himself. [18]

Condition: some thinness, previously covered by retouching, in the hair and under the chin; cleaned and relined 1971 when extensive overpainting along the top and right edges, old retouchings and darkened varnish were removed; paint showing signs of lifting near his right hip was secured; small damages and tack holes repaired and branched craquelure touched in. The original canvas, turned over the edge of a stretcher (not the original) measuring approximately 16 ½ x 15 ½ in., was replaced in 1971 with a larger stretcher allowing the original canvas, now measuring 17 ¾ x 16 ¾ in., to be laid flat. A contemporary frame replaces the earlier one made in August 1869.

Collections: purchased 1869, from Agnew's, Manchester; as with most of his pictures, retained by the artist and bequeathed to his widow. [19] First referred to by Nichols in 1782 [20] as in the Hogarth house at Chiswick, it appeared in the posthumous sale, 1790, of Mrs Hogarth's property (see NPG 121, above), lot 46 of ‘Pictures by Hogarth': ‘a ditto [his own portrait] whole-length painting'; the Asscher catalogue notes that it was ‘small' and fetched '13.2.6'; the buyer's name is not known. In 1814 it was exhibited by the Marquess Camden at the British Institution (95) and at the posthumous sale, Christie's, 12 June 1841, undertaken by his executors, it was lot 36, said to have been acquired by his father Charles Pratt (1714-94), created baron, 1765, and Earl Camden, 1786, ‘from the painter'; this is obviously improbable. In the 1841 sale it was bought, with a portrait of the pugilist Broughton, lot 8, by Smith for £54.12spresumably for the collector H.R. Willett (d.1858). [21] Exhibition labels show ownership as follows: in 1857, R.P. Willet; 1862 and 1867 Willet L. Adye and in 1868 W. Adye; at Christie's, 10 July 1869, lot 50, ‘Pictures and Sketches by Hogarth collected by the late H.R. Willett', bought Agnew's.

Exhibited: British Institution, 1814 (95), 1848 (144); ‘Paintings by Modern Masters', Manchester, 1857 (15); ‘International Exhibition', London, 1862 (1); ‘NPE' 1867 (364); Leeds, 1868 (1090); ‘Masterpieces of English Painting', Chicago, 1946 (7); ‘Hogarth', Manchester, 1954 (43); ‘British Self-Portraits', Arts Council, 1962 ( 8); ‘Prints and Drawings in Honour of the Bicentenary of William Hogarth (1697-1764)', BM, 1964-65 (no catalogue published).

Engraved: etched by the artist, seven states between c.1758 and 1764, Paulson (204); later copies (O'D 23 and 24-29).

Literature: J. Ireland, Hogarth Illustrated, 1791-98; S. Ireland, Graphic Illustrations of Hogarth, 1794-99; J.B. Nichols, Anecdotes of William Hogarth, 1833; ‘Mrs Hogarth's Collection', Burlington Magazine, LXXXV, 1944; A.P. Oppé, The Drawings of William Hogarth, 1948; Hogarth's Peregrination, ed. C. Mitchell, 1952; J.V.G. Mallet, 'Hogarth's pug in porcelain', Victoria and Albert Museum Bulletin, III, 1967; R. Paulson, Hogarth: His Life, Art and Times, 1971.


Apart from the Roubiliac bust of 1741 discussed above, five other authentic portraits, all self-portraits, are known. Two sketches appear in the Five Days' Peregrination, the record of an impromptu tour undertaken in 1732 with four friends including the painter Samuel Scott (q.v.) and the sitter's brother-in-law John Thornhill. In 'Drawing ye 3rd', a view of Upnor Castle with the five travellers in the foreground, the artist shows himself side by side with Thornhill, a comment no doubt on his extreme shortness of stature. The fourth illustration including 'Mr Hogarth Drawing this Drawing' is of ‘Breakfast in Stoke'. The portrait with Trump, Tate Gallery (112), has the date 1745 included in the picture; engravings were on sale by March 1748. [22] The other portrait in Oh the Roast Beef of Old England, 1748, at the Tate (1464), is separately engraved, and depicts the artist sketching the Porte de la Mer, Calais. NPG 289, the self-portrait at the easel, c.1758, is discussed above.

The diagonal scar over the right eye, the result of an accident in his youth, is shown in the major portraits. The artist, as Ireland also records, 'frequently wore his hat so as to display it'. [23] The silhouette ‘Hogarth and Garrick' [24] engraved by B. Longmate and published in Graphic Illustrations of Hogarth, 1799, is apparently rightly named. It is amusing rather than of high iconographic value.

At least one self-portrait is missing. In Mrs Hogarth's sale, lot 45 'His own Portrait, a head' was annotated in the sale catalogue ‘£2/8/0. Vincent' and bought by 'Mr Wilson'. [25] It may have been the picture, lot 37, in the Thomas Gwennap sale, Christie's, 4 April 1821, bought Colnaghi's. The catalogue refers to the scar and to the provenance of the portrait 'bought at the Sale of the Artist's effects, by the late Mr Rhann'. Alternatively it may have passed into the Watson Taylor collection, perhaps no. 45 at the British Gallery, 1817, [26] lent by him and described as a self-portrait of the artist. Again, it might have been lot 43, Taylor sale, 25 July 1832 (15th day), catalogued as 'intended to be presented to the gallery of pictures at the Foundling Hospital'—bought for £31.10s. In the Willett sale, Christie's, 10 July 1869, a small head (lot 64) [27] was sketched by Scharf who believed it to represent Hogarth. Though somewhat slight, his sketch shows the scar over the right eye. The wig might be of the 1730s. A picture described as a self-portrait and fetching £9 was lot 64, anonymous property, at the Christie's sale, 18 June 1805, which included the eight paintings of 'The Rake's Progress' bought by Soane for £598.10s. This portrait has not been subsequently identified.

Other portraits
References to other portraits occur whose history cannot be traced back to the sitter's life-time. In 1781 Charles Townley published a mezzotint Hogarth From an Original Portrait begun by Weltdon And finished by Himself Late in the Possession of the Revd Mr. Townley but no such portrait was known, or accepted, by Hogarth's family. [28] The costume could be of the 'thirties or 'forties. The hat is pulled down over the forehead, no scar is visible and the hand as well as the features appear to have been smoothed out by the engraver. The squareness of the jaw, however, carries a certain conviction and it may well be rightly named. An oil formerly in the Kinnaird collection, exhibited 'Hogarth', Tate Gallery, 1951 (23), provenance unknown before 1812 when owned by the 8th Lord Kinnaird, is now in the Mellon collection. A similar self-portrait owned and engraved by Samuel Ireland was first published by W. Dickenson, 1786 (O'D 33) and later, 1794, in Graphic Illustrations . . . (O'D 34). It shows the sitter, head and shoulders, holding a palette, and might perhaps relate to 'Hogarth's own Portrait with Pallet' which was lot 452, bought Manson £4 14s 6d,in the sale of Ireland's property, Sotheby's, 7May 1801, and days following. Ireland, on the other hand, is not infallible. He believed, for example, that Hayman's ‘Greene and Hoadly' (NPG 2106, see above, Maurice Greene) was by Hogarth. The engraving might equally be connected with the Kinnaird portrait but the likeness in the former is not close and though the oil was thought at one time to represent Hogarth c.1730, the handling, when lent to the Tate, 1951, was not convincing as autograph. The wig in the engraving appears to be later than 1730. Lot 452 of the Ireland sale, unless it be the Kinnaird portrait, remains untraced.

The small head by Worlidge, now discounted, is said to represent Ashley, keeper of the punch house on Ludgate Hill. [29] It was first recorded in 1816 when engraved by T. Priscott from the collection of C. Dyer for the Claris Hogarthiana. [30]In certain later portraits, said to be of Hogarth, the diagonal scar is absent. Of these, the whole length by Soldi, 1739, exhibited 'English Taste in the 18th Century', RA, 1955 (11), when owned by Captain Wombwell, might represent the publisher Edward Cave [31] and the small head at Burghley, collection Marquess of Exeter, might rather be a sketch for some other composition by Hogarth, as yet unidentified.


1. Vertue, III, p.105. Perhaps he saw it unfired in the studio.
2. Mallet, p.47.
3. Ibid.
4. Paulson, I, p.205.
5. Ireland, I, title page plate and page lv.
6. Mallet, p.53, note 3.
7. Nichols, 1781, p.59.
8. Lugt (4575); Paulson, 1971, II, p.513.
9. Athenaeum, 2452, 24 October 1874, pp.550-51.
10. NPG archives.
11. Paulson, I, pp.237-38.
12. Nichols, 1782, p.295.
13. Paulson, 1971, I, pp.203, II, 475-76.
14. Nichols, 1782, p.295.
15. Paulson, 1971, I, p.203, pl.67. Lady Catherine Manners, died 17 February 1780, aged 79, wife of Henry Pelham (q.v.) has also been suggested as the sitter.
16. Taken with the canvas off the stretcher and laid flat.
17. Paulson, 1971, II, p.258, pls 235a, b; R. Paulson, ‘Paul before Felix, Reconsidered', Burlington Magazine, CXIV, April 1972, pp.233-37.
18. Kerslake, 'The Hidden Hogarth', Sunday Times, 11 July 1971.
19. Paulson, 1971, II, p.513.
20. Nichols, 1782, p.295.
21. 'At his Chambers, in the Albany, Piccadilly, aged 75, Hanry [sic] Ralph Willett, esq., of Merly-house. The deceased gentleman was a Freemason, and the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Dorset', Gentleman's Magazine, 1858, vol. 254 (NS 4), p.117.
22. Vertue, VI, p.200.
23. J. Ireland, I, p.cxx.
24. J.B. Nichols, p.230.
25. Athenaeum, 24 October 1874, p.551.
26. Nichols and Steevens, III, p.171.
27. Sale catalogue, NPG library.
28. CS, III, p.1385; Nichols and Steevens, II, p.267; J. Nichols, 1781, p.59, describes him as 'James Townley, proctor in Doctors Commons, . . . brother Mr Townley, miniature-painter'; CS, III, p.1381, suggests ‘Revd. Mr. Townley' as Charles' father. The Rev. James Townley (d. 1778) was headmaster of Merchant Taylors School.
29. J.B. Nichols, p.335.
30. Nichols and Steevens, III, frontispiece, and p.89.
31. Suggested by D.T. Piper.


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