The Great Court of the British Museum, £9.99
Height: 372.000 cm
Width: 271.000 cm (sheet)
Prints and Drawings
William Hogarth, Gulielmus Hogarth, a print
London, England, AD 1749
Hogarth's self-portrait as a modern English artist
This is an unfinished proof engraving, before the lettering was added. It reproduces the painted self-portrait that is now in the Tate Gallery, London and was designed by Hogarth to be used as a frontispiece in bound collections of his prints.
The portrait deliberately projects an image - a guide to the way Hogarth wanted others to think of him. The artist's painting in informal dress rests on a pile of books labelled (in the finished engraving) Shakespeare, Milton and Swift. William Shakespeare and John Milton were generally acknowledged to be the greatest modern English authors and Jonathan Swift was a vigorous modern satirist. The palette and graver represent Hogarth's twin roles as painter and engraver and the 'Line of Beauty' alludes to his favourite art theory. The only living object in the painting is Hogarth's pet pug, Trump.
Hogarth announces himself as essentially English. He despised the slavish following of foreign models, and believed that art should be based on the imitation of nature, like the work of the great English authors.
R. Paulson, Hogarths graphic works, 3rd edition (London, The Print Room, 1989)
D. Bindman, Hogarth and his times: serious, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)
J. Uglow, Hogarth: a life and a world (London, Faber and Faber, 1997)
R. Paulson, Hogarth, vol 2 (Cambridge, Lutterworth, 1991-93)