<< YCBA Home Yale Center for British Art Yale Center for British Art << YCBA Home

YCBA Collections Search

IIIF Actions
William Hogarth, 1697–1764


ca. 1735
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
21 1/2 x 20 inches (54.6 x 50.8 cm), Frame: 31 × 29 1/2 inches (78.7 × 74.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
ascot | brown | cravat | gaze | man | palette | portrait | turning | wig
Associated People:
Hogarth, William (1697–1764), painter and engraver
On view at the Yale University Art Gallery
IIIF Manifest:

From the 1730s, William Hogarth dominated debates about what kind of art was appropriate for Britain and helped to revolutionize the art market. This assertive self-portrait shows Hogarth at the height of his influence, when he had recently completed his first two satirical “modern moral subjects”: The Harlot’s Progress (1732) and The Rake’s Progress (1734). Hogarth thought these series taken from contemporary life were more suited to a modern commercial society than conventional history paintings. The sale of prints after these subjects earned Hogarth a considerable income and freed him from reliance on aristocratic patrons. When this portrait was painted he had just pushed copyright legislation (“Hogarth’s Act” of 1735) through Parliament to protect the profits of his prints from the competition of cheap, pirated editions.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

This is Hogarth's earliest known self-portrait. He painted it at the height of his success as an engraver, when he had begun to gain recognition as leader of a recognizably "British" school of painting. He evidently reworked the image numerous times, adding and changing details as he went along. Originally he painted himself wearing a soft cap (its faint outline can be seen around the crown of his head), but he decided to replace it with a more formal, fashionable, and socially indeterminate wig. As well, he added his artist's palette, edging it into the bottom righthand corner of the canvas, after he had finished the figure. Thus, Hogarth portrays himself unapologetically as both a young gentleman and a professional artist, an ambitious dual identity that would have shocked many patrons and fellow artists in the previous generation.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005
This is Hogarth's earliest-known self-portrait, a work of painterly improvisation that in areas such as the eyes, mouth, and sketchily described cravat seems to vibrate with the traces of his brush. He clearly reworked the portrait constantly, adding and changing details of the composition as he painted. For instance, he originally painted himself wearing a soft cap, the faint outline of which is visible around the crown of his head; the switch to powdered wig may have resulted from compositional requirements, from vanity, or perhaps from a desire on his part to present himself as a fashionable gentleman.
The addition of his palette, awkwardly wedged into the lower right corner of the canvas, clearly articulates his desire to be seen as a painter. Despite his success as an engraver throughout the 1720s and 1730s, Hogarth continually sought to develop his reputation as a leader of the painting establishment. Toward that end, in 1735 he rejuvenated the academy of painting he had inherited earlier that year from his father-in-law, Sir James Thornhill. Through the St. Martin's Lane Academy he endeavored to establish and foster a native school of artists. One of his principal goals was to break British patrons of their habit of employing artists from abroad and to wrest commissions from the clutches of foreigners and British artists working in Continentally-inspired styles. Particularly abhorrent to him was the dominance in artistic circles of the Palladian style promoted by William Kent and his patron, Lord Burlington.
Painted at the height of his success as an engraverand precisely at the moment when he was advancing his fortunes as the leader of a British school of painting, Hogarth's self-portrait is one of his ?rst serious attempts at the genre of full-scale portraiture. Though by no means an aesthetic manifesto like his famous self-portrait of 1745, The Painter with a Pug (Tate Gallery), it shows him developing some of the practices and ideals that were to mark his philosophy of art. The dappled paint in his cheeks and the ?orid brushstrokes around his eyes, for instance, anticipate in paint this commanding passage from his theoretical treatise of 1753, The Analysis of Beauty: Recollect that in the disposition of colours as well as of forms, variety, simplicity, distinctness, intricacy, uniformity and quantity, direct in giving beauty to the colouring of the human frame, especially if we include the face, where uniformity and strong opposition of tints are required, as in the eyes and mouth, which call most for our attention. But for the general hue of flesh… variety, intricacy and simplicity, are chiefly required.

Julia Marciari-Alexander

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, pp. 42-43, no. 9, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

YUAG European Galleries (Yale University Art Gallery, 2023-12-01 - 2025-01-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

In a New Light: Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art (Yale University Art Gallery, 2023-03-24 - 2023-12-03) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

William Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor (The Morgan Library & Museum, 2019-05-24 - 2019-09-22) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Hogarth (CaixaForum Madrid, 2007-05-21 - 2007-08-26) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Hogarth (Tate Britain, 2007-02-05 - 2007-04-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Hogarth (Musée du Louvre, 2006-10-18 - 2007-01-07) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of South Australia, 1998-09-16 - 1998-11-15) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Queensland Art Gallery, 1998-07-15 - 1998-09-06) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

This Other Eden : British Paintings from the Paul Mellon Collection at Yale (Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998-05-01 - 1998-07-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

William Hogarth (1697-1764) (Fondazione Giorgio Cini, 1989-08-26 - 1989-11-12) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Manners and Morals - Hogarth and British Painting 1700-1760 (Tate Britain, 1987-10-15 - 1988-01-03) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

William Hogarth - A Selection of Painting from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon (National Gallery of Art, 1971-02-12 - 1971-05-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Frederick Antal, Hogarth and his place in European art., Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1962, p. 91, no. 96a, NJ18 H67 A63 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Art : The Definitive Visual History, DK Publishing, New York, 2018, p. 258, NX440 .A785 2018 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ronald Brymer Beckett, Hogarth, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1949, p. 55, no. 40, NJ18 H67 B43 1949 [ORBIS]

Ronald Brymer Beckett, William Hogarth 1697-1764 : catalogue of an exhibition arranged by the Arts Council of Great Britain upon the occasion of the Festival of Britain 1951 : held at the Tate Gallery, London, 29th June-29th July, , Tate Gallery, London, 1951, p. 22, no. 23, NJ18 H67 B44 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Jeremy John Bell, The Freemason's harlot : William Hogarth's Harlot's Progress in a masonic light, British Art Journal, Vol. 16, Autumn 2015, p. 42, Pl. 2, N6761 B74 16:2 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 122-123, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Elizabeth Einberg, Manners & morals : Hogarth and British painting 1700-1760 : The Tate Gallery., , Tate Publishing, London, 1987, pp. 94-5, no. 73, NJ18 H67 E55 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

Elizabeth Einberg, The age of Hogarth, British painters born 1675-1709 , vol. 2, Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 112, ND466 T38 1988 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Elizabeth Einberg, William Hogarth : A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven, London, 2016, pp. 113-114, cat. 65, NJ18 H67 +E36 2016 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

William Rummel Francis, William Hogarth : A Loan Exhibition of Paintings, Drawings and Prints at the Virginia Museum, , Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA., January 30-March 5, 1967, pp. 4, 21, no. 13, NJ18 H67 +F72 1967 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Vic Gatrell, The first bohemians, life and art in London's golden age , Allen Lane, London, 2013, p. 183, pl. 11, NX544.L6 G37 2013 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Mark Hallett, Hogarth, Phaidon, London, 2000, pp. 134-136, 161-163, no. 77, NJ18 H67 H25 2000 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Mark Hallett, Hogarth, Tate Publishing, London New York, 2006, pp. 38-39, no. 1, NJ18 H67 W5413 2006 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Samuel Ireland, Graphic illustrations of Hogarth, from pictures, drawings, and scarce prints in the possession of Samuel Ireland, author of this work; ... , R. Fauldner and J. Egerton, London, 1794, p. 1, Available Online (ORBIS) [ORBIS]

Jack Lindsay, Hogarth : his life and his world, , Hart-Davis, MacGibbon, London, 1977, p. 97, NJ18 H67 L56 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden : Paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, pp. 42-43, no. 9, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Mullan, His Picture was His Stage, TLS, the Times Literary Supplement, Issue no. 5425, March 23, 2007, pp. 18-19, Film S748 (SML) Also Available Online in TLS Archive [ORBIS]

Ronald Paulson, Hogarth : His Life, Art, and Times, , Yale University Press, New Haven, 1971, pp. 450-45 (v.1), no. 170, NJ18 H67+ P39 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Robin Simon, Hogarth, France and British Art : The Rise of the Arts in 18th-Century Britain, , Hogarth Arts, London, 2007, p. 50, fig. XV, NJ18 H67 +S55 2007 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Jennifer S. Uglow, Hogarth, a life and a world , Faber and Faber, London, 1997, pp. 260-1, 404, NJ18 H67 U35 1997 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Ellis Waterhouse, Dictionary of British 18th Century Painters in Oils and Crayons, Antique Collectors' Club, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1981, pp. 175-176, ND466 +W38 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Mary Webster, Hogarth, Studio Vista, London, 1979, pp. 6, 123, 126, 136, NJ18 H67 +W43 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

William Hogarth : A Selection of Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon., , National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., 1971, p. 21, no. 12, NJ18 H67 U53 (YCBA) [YCBA]

William Hogarth : dipinti, disegni, incisioni : 26 Agosto-12 Novembre, 1989., , 6, Neri Pozza, Vincenza, Italy, 26 August- 12 November, p. 79, no. 139, NJ18 H67 W55 1989 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

William Hogarth, Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2006, pp. 38-9, no. 1, NJ18 H67 W54 2006 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

If you have information about this object that may be of assistance please contact us.