The Self-Portrait with
“ The Line of Beauty ”
Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). Gulielmus Hogarth. Half-length self-portrait as mirror image over – outside of the oval – folios with his dog Trump and palette, enclosed by drapery as a symbol of the mysterious reflecting upon the mirror. Engraving by Thomas Cook (c. 1744 – London 1818). Inscribed: Painted by W. Hogarth. / Engraved by T. Cook / Published June 1st 1801 by G. G. & J. Robinson Paternoster Row London, title as before. 15¼ × 11½ in (38.7 × 29.2 cm).
The fine self-portrait with the waved line with The Line of Beauty on the palette as the artistic credo elucidated in his Analysis of Beauty of 1753. Here following the engraving of 1749 that itself is based on the painting of 1745 reverse to this (colour illustration see Hogarth Catalogue of the Tate Gallery from 1971/72 p. 73). In that as in the painting the designation on the palette still with the additions “And Grace” + “WH 1745”. The folios remaining without titles here.
“ The famous line with which Hogarth had baited the palette in his selfportrait is hardly more than incidental to a wideranging survey of the visual resources of art and their roots in nature. This in itself was original. ”
(Cat. Tate Gallery p. 74).
Due to a further use of the plate of the portrait of 1749 (see “The Bruiser”) and the resulting rareness of impressions the Cook sheet here gains additional value. The more so as Cook “made his mark as Hogarth engraver, too, whose complete work he has engraved in copy” (Thieme-Becker) and whose original format he maintained contrary to all later Hogarth editions in his first, earlier edition. For some sheets not published by Hogarth himself Cook became their first engraver, just as he also gained approval of a contemporary connoisseur as Maximilian Speck von Sternburg. – The fine chiaroscuro determines the impression. – Narrow tear in the wide white margin.
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– – – The same in stipple by Bartolozzi’s pupil Benjamin Smith (d. c. 1810). Inscribed: Painted by W. Hogarth. / Engraved by Benj. Smith. / William Hogarth. / From the Original in the Collection of John & Josuah Boydell. / Published June 2. 1795 by J. & J. Boydell … at the Shakespeare Gallery Pall Mall. 15½ × 11¾ in (39.5 × 30 cm).
Nagler 33 and, Smith, 4. – Posthumous version of the painterly self-portrait of 1745 for the first complete edition (1790-1809) published by Boydell as the original plate of 1749 was lost due to further use by Hogarth in 1763 (see “The Bruiser”). Unlike the engraving of 1749 in the same direction as the painting. Otherwise with the full palette inscription “The Line of Beauty / And Grace / WH 1745” and legible titles for two of the three tomes: Shakespeare and Swift Works resp. – Later impression on sturdy paper (“Even these became relatively rare today though”, Art Gallery Esslingen 1970; and Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., VIII , 625: “A fine edition”, esteemed also already by contemporary collectors of the rank of for instance an A. T. Stewart [Catalog of the Stewart Collection, New York 1887, 1221, “fine plates”]). – Diagonal marginal box pleat still affecting the right margin of the picture and a further horizontal one weakly perceptible for just a few cm above the folios. Backed dog’s ear upper right. The wide white margin foxstippled and with faint tidemark lower left.
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“ I purchased this set (Leonardo’s Anatomical Studies) from you at the beginning of this year (recte already in 2011). The books are one of my prized possessions … and thank you again for being a part of this special section of my library … ”
(Mr. M. W., December 19, 2012)