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Thomas Patch (c. 1725-82)

A self-portrait as an ox c. 1768-70

RCIN 811275

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The landscape painter Thomas Patch developed an interest in physiognomy, the supposed science of determining character through the form of one's face and body. This remarkable self-portrait is an exercise in false modesty: it alludes to the ancient idea that 'every painter paints himself', and Patch thus shows himself as bovine by nature. But the inscriptions in Latin and garbled Italian below are a quotation from the Gospel of Saint Luke, 'he that humbleth himself shall be exalted'.

No. 108