William Hogarth (1697-1764) painter and engraver: self portrait painting the Comic Muse

William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)

Etching and engraving

published 29 March 1758
  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    William Hogarth sits before his easel, holding a palette and several brushes as he paints an image of Thalia, the Muse of Comedy. Thalia was said to bring inspiration to playwrights and may represent artistic inspiration to Hogarth.

    This print was made after Hogarth’s painted self portrait of c.1757 (National Portrait Gallery). There are several differences between the print and the original painting. In the painting, the pot (seen just behind Hogarth’s chair) is not included and a book (to the lower right) is also omitted. The book is ‘The Analysis of Beauty’ (1753); Hogarth’s reflections on his work and on art in general.

    In 1757 Hogarth was appointed Sergeant Painter to King George II, receiving a salary of c.£200 per annum. The following year he included the lettering ‘Wm. Hogarth SERJEANT PAINTER to His MAJESTY’ below the image on this print. An X-ray of the painting reveals that it once included a dog, cocking its leg against a stack of Old Master paintings. This controversial statement may have been painted over in light of the artist’s newly acquired position.

    Published in 1758, five subsequent versions followed this early print after Hogarth’s self portrait. The last was published in 1764.

  • About the artist
    The portraits and social satires of William Hogarth, painter and engraver, have come to define the period in which he lived. His best known works include his series of satirical of paintings, such as ‘The Beggar’s Opera’ (c.1729, Birmingham City Art Gallery, private collection and National Gallery of Art, Washington) and ‘A Rake’s Progress’ (c.1734, Sir John Soane's Museum, London). He also painted formal portraits, including the philanthropist ‘Captain Thomas Coram’ (1740, Coram family, in the care of the Foundling Museum, London) and ‘The Graham Children’ (1742, National Gallery, London). Hogarth lived and worked in London for most of his life and was a major benefactor of the Foundling Museum during the 1740s, founded by Captain Coram.
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  • Details
    William Hogarth (1697-1764) painter and engraver: self portrait painting the Comic Muse
    published 29 March 1758
    Etching and engraving
    height: 44.80 cm, width: 39.80 cm
    Purchased from Andrew Edmunds, May 2002
    Andrew Edmunds, London
    GAC number