William Jones

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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William Jones

by William Hogarth
oil on canvas, 1740
50 in. x 40 1/4 in. (1270 mm x 1022 mm)
Purchased with help from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, 1984
Primary Collection
NPG 5734

On display in Room 9 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • William Hogarth (1697-1764), Painter and engraver. Artist or producer associated with 128 portraits, Sitter associated with 19 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The painting was probably commissioned by the 2nd Earl of Macclesfield, a patron of Jones with whom Jones and his family lived in Oxfordshire. The 2nd Earl was a Governor of the Foundling Hospital in London, as was the artist Hogarth, which may be how the portrait came to be commissioned.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Piper, David, The English Face, 1992, p. 137
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 343
  • 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. 61, 158 Read entry

    Carved and gilt pine, mitred and keyed, the punching of the ground obscured by regilding. 4 inches wide.

    This traditional running pattern of foliage and strapwork with shell-and-leaf sight edge and narrow sanded flat is of a type found on frames of the 1720s and in slightly different form as early as the 1690s. The corners, however, clearly date the frame to the 1740s. The shaped panels, rosettes and pierced foliage scrolls are typical; less usual is the way the scrolls end at the corners in paired outreaching leaves.

    Hogarth's portrait of the mathematician, William Jones, was formerly part of the large series of eighteenth-century portraits at Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire, commissioned by the Earls of Macclesfield. There is nothing to suggest Hogarth's involvement in the framing of the picture and it may be that the 2nd Earl, both Hogarth's and Jones's patron, chose a rather traditional pattern in keeping with his other portraits. Jones's wife, Maria, was the daughter of the leading carver, gilder and framemaker, George Nix, an acquaintance of Macclesfield's, but there is no published evidence to support his involvement in the frame.

  • Simon, Robin, The portrait in Britain and America : with a biographical dictionary of portrait painters, 1680-1914, 1987, p. 95 number 84

Events of 1740back to top

Current affairs

The song Rule, Britannia! by Thomas Arne is performed for the first time at Cliveden, the country home of Frederick, Prince of Wales.
A now discredited account by antiquarian William Stukely asserts that Stonehenge was built by druids.

Art and science

Samuel Richardson publishes the first two volumes of Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, the best-selling novel of the period.
Artists Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough both arrive in London. Reynolds is apprenticed to the leading portrait-painter Thomas Hudson, while Gainsborough begins his artistic training with the French engraver and illustrator Hubert-Francois Gravelot.


Death of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI and the succession of his eldest daughter Maria Térèsa heralds the start of the War of the Austrian Succession. Britain, already fighting Spain (in the War of Jenkin's Ear), is drawn into the wider conflict as an ally of Austria until 1748.
Frederick II becomes King of Prussia.
Pope Benedict XIV succeeds Pope Clement XII as the 247th pope.

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