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Alexander Pope

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Alexander Pope, by William Hoare, circa 1739-1743 -NPG 873 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Alexander Pope

by William Hoare
circa 1739-1743
6 5/8 in. x 4 1/2 in. (168 mm x 114 mm)
NPG 873

Inscriptionback to top

Framed in a paper mount. At the bottom, between the first and second rules: A: Pope Esqr.: and between the second and outer rules: ad vivum and Wm Hoare in the corners.
At the top a pencil inscription reads
Mr Pope and on the back in ink, possibly in the hand of Prince Hoare: This is the only Portrait that was ever drawn/of Mr Pope at Full-length. It was done/without his knowledge, as he was deeply engaged/in conversation with Mr Allen in the Gallery at/Prior Park; by Mr Hoare, who sat at the other/end of the Gallery. - Pope would never have/forgiven the Painter had he known it. He was/too sensible of the deformity of his Person to allow/the Whole of it to be represented. This Drawing/is therefore exceedingly valuable, as it is an/Unique of this celebrated Poet; also, in pencil, 64 and 176.

This portraitback to top

The drawing, on hand-made 18th-century paper, may well be the prototype of several known versions and copies. [1] When first published, apparently in 1797 in Warton's edition of Pope's Works, the above legend appeared on the opposite page. Hoare, who practised painting in Bath for about fifty years, is unlikely to have drawn the sitter before his return from Italy in 1739. Pope was last at Prior Park in the summer of 1743.

Footnotesback to top

1) W. K. Wimsatt, The Portraits of Alexander Pope, 1965, pp 298-300.

Physical descriptionback to top

Profile, full length; short wig, frock coat to below knees, wide cuffs; pointing index finger of right hand.

Conservationback to top

The paper, possibly once white, is now brownish-pink with further discolourations in the background, lower right, and across the right foot.

Provenanceback to top

Bought, June 1891, from Colnaghi's, the purchaser at Christie's, 24 April 1891, lot 176, sale of a collection of engravings and drawings ‘Formed by the Second Viscount Palmerston’; possibly bought by his second wife, Lady Palmerston, who visited Bath in 1791 and 1792, the year of Hoare's death. The catalogue of the artist's sale by Mr Plura of Bath, 18 February 1794, has yet to be located.

Reproductionsback to top

Engraved by P. Condé in Warton's edition of the Works of Pope, 1797 (I, facing p.ix) and in W. C. Bowles’ edition of 1806.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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