This head and shoulders portrait of artist William Hogarth shows the sitter holding his pallet. The scribbled patterns of etched lines which make up the work point to the status of the engraver, Samuel Ireland, as an amateur etcher.
The print was published by Ireland as part of the second edition of his work titled ‘Graphic Illustrations of Hogarth, from Pictures, Drawings, and Scarce Prints in the possession of Samuel Ireland’. When Ireland’s collection was sold after his death, it reportedly included ‘many first sketches and finished pictures, by Hogarth, purchased by Mr. Ireland of Mrs. Hogarth’. This example may have been etched after Lot 452 in that sale, an oil painting described as ‘Hogarth’s own Portrait with Pallet’. However, Ireland’s attributions proved to be unreliable and doubt has been cast over whether this portrait is in fact after a Hogarth work at all.
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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