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William Hogarth (1697-1764)

A self-portrait with a pug dated 1749

Engraving | 39.4 x 29.8 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 811832

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  • An engraving after a self-portrait of William Hogarth; half length, turned three-quarters to the left, wearing a Montero cap; within a fictive oval canvas set upon a pile of books on a table. His dog Trump sits to the left. His burin and palette are also on the table. 4th state. Inscribed: The / Line of Beauty / Gulielmus Hogarth./ Se ipse Pinxit et Sculpsit 1749.

    William Hogarth was dedicated to cultivating a truly English school of art, distinct from the tastes of imported Continental art and artists. By producing engravings after his own paintings, he attempted to forge a career free of dependence on the whims of a patron. In 1745 he painted his self-portrait (Tate, London) to hang in his house in Leicester Square as a presiding Genius, in which the artist’s likeness is presented as if on an oval canvas, resting on the works of Shakespeare, Swift and Milton. In the foreground are the artist’s pug dog, Trump – perhaps alluding to the ‘faithfulness’ of his art – and a palette bearing the sinuous line that Hogarth believed was the key to all beauty, and that made its first (and unexplained) appearance in the self-portrait.

    This print was published four years later in 1749 and seems to mark a growing self-confidence; in the same year Hogarth bought his country villa in Chiswick. With the addition of an engraver’s burin in the foreground, the print reproduces the painting in reverse, though Hogarth took care to reposition his prominent scar (of which he was rather proud) so that it is correctly over his right eye in both painting and print. In addition to its function as a single-sheet print, separately issued, the print also served as a frontispiece to the albums of his prints that Hogarth was by that date issuing as readymade collections.

    Text adapted from Portrait of the Artist, London, 2016
  • Medium and techniques



    39.4 x 29.8 cm (sheet of paper)

    38.3 x 28.6 cm (platemark)

  • Category
    Object type(s)

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