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Creator William Hogarth, 1697–1764, British
Title The Beggar's Opera
Alternate Title(s) The Beggar's Opera, III, xi
Scene from the Beggar's Opera
Date 1729
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 23 1/4 x 30 inches (59.1 x 76.2 cm) Frame: 33 1/4 × 40 × 3 1/4 inches (84.5 × 101.6 × 8.3 cm)
Inscription(s)/
Marks/
Lettering
signed and dated 1729
Credit Line Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Accession Number B1981.25.349
Collection Paintings and Sculpture
Curatorial Comment John Gay’s ballad opera, with music arranged by Johann Pepusch, was first produced by John Rich at the Lincoln’s Inn Fields Theatre in January 1728. “The Beggar’s Opera” was an unprecedented success, running for sixty-two performances in its first season and inspiring the pun that it had made Rich gay, and Gay rich. With its English ballad interludes and its setting in London's criminal underworld, the play challenged the vogue for Italian opera that Hogarth had satirized in his earliest engravings. Hogarth’s painting depicts the climax of the play, set in Newgate Prison. Macheath, a gentlemanly highwayman bigamist, stands in chains at center stage. His two wives, Polly Peachum and Lucy Lockit, make appeals to their fathers, thieftaker and jailer, respectively, to perjure themselves in support of Macheath. Hogarth painted five versions of the scene; this is the last and marks the culmination of his rapid development as a painter. The painting is set in an ambiguous space, part prison and part stage, which situates the interplay of reality and fiction suggested in the Latin motto that appears on the banner over the stage: “Veluti in speculum” (as in a mirror). The figures seated in boxes at the sides of the stage, occupying what were considered to be the best seats in the house, are recognizable portraits. Of particular note are John Gay, the shadowy figure at the foot of the staircase, and John Rich, standing immediately in front of Gay. In the foreground, Lavinia Fenton, the actress playing Polly Peachum, meets the gaze of the enthralled Lord Bolton; at the end of the season he would install her as his mistress, and they would remain together until his death in 1754. “The Beggar's Opera” was Hogarth’s first major success as a painter and set the stage thematically and compositionally for the modern moral subjects he would begin to produce in the following decade.
     -- Eleanor Hughes, 2007-01
Link to This Record http://collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/1669269
Subject Terms boxes (containers) | correctional institution | crest | fathers | jail | keys | literary theme | prison | shield | stage
Publications

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, pp. 40-41, no. 8, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)


John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 247, no. 14, pl. 14, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)


Timothy J. Barringer, Art & music in Britain, four encounters, 1730-1900., Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2006, pp. 6-7, 9, 10-11, V 1699 (YCBA)


Lindsay Rothwell, Paul Mellon's legacy, an American's passion for British art : Sackler Wing of Galleries, 20 October 2007 - 27 January 2008 : an introduction to the exhibition for teachers and students., Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 2007, pp. 12-13, 25, no. 14, V 2038 (YCBA)


Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels], Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)


William Vaughan, British painting, the Golden Age from Hogarth to Turner, Thames and Hudson, London, 1999, p. 27, no. 14, ND466 V28 1999 (YCBA)


Among the whores and thieves : William Hogarth and The beggar's opera, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1997, pp. 16-24, 28-29, 76, 92, no. 11, fig. 5, NJ18 H67 A15 B4 1997 (YCBA)


Yale Center for British Art, Selected paintings, drawings & books, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1977, p. 8, N590.2 A82 (YCBA)


Painting in England 1700-1850, collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 112 (v. 1),, no. 213, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA)


National Gallery of Art, Painting in Georgian England from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1970, p. 12, no. 31, ND488 P25 (YCBA)


Malcolm Warner, Great British paintings from American collections, Holbein to Hockney, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, pp. 66-7, no. 7, ND464 W27 2001 (YCBA)


Yale University Art Gallery, Painting in England, 1700-1850, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, [exhibition at] Yale University Art Gallery, April 15-June 20, 1965., vol. 1, W. Clowes and sons, New Haven, 1965, pp. 30-1 (v. 1),, no. 108, pl. 32, ND466 Y35 (YCBA)


Jennifer S. Uglow, Hogarth, a life and a world, Faber and Faber, London, 1997, pp. 135-40..., pl. 33, NJ18 H67 U35 1997 (YCBA)


Robin Simon, Hogarth, France and British Art : The Rise of the Arts in 18th-Century Britain, , Hogarth Arts, London, 2007, pp. 257-267, NJ18 H67 +S55 2007 Oversize (YCBA)


The age of Hogarth, British painters born 1675-1709, vol. 2, Tate Gallery, London, 1988, pp. 74-81, 145, fig. 30, ND466 T38 1988 + OVERSIZE (YCBA)


E. D. H. Johnson, Paintings of the British social scene, from Hogarth to Sickert, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1986, pp. 23, 24, 4,, ND1452 G7 J64 (YCBA)


Painting in England 1700-1850 from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, The Royal Academy of Arts Winter Exhibition 1964-65., , Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 1964, pp. 8 (v. 1)..., no. 22, ND466 R68 1964 65 (YCBA) , Also available on Microfiche: Fiche B214 (YCBA)


Lisa A. Freeman, Character's theater, genre and identity on the eighteenth-century English stage, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 2002, p. 40, fig. 4, PS708 C47 F74X 2002 (SML)


William Park, The idea of Rococo, University of Delaware Press, Newark, 1992, p. 94, NX452.5 R6 P37X 1992 OVERSIZE (HAAS)


Ronald Paulson, Hogarth : His Life, Art, and Times, , Yale University Press, New Haven, 1971, pp. 180-92..., pl. 64 (v.1), NJ18 H67+ P39 Oversize (YCBA)


Timothy J. Barringer, Art & music in Britain, four encounters, 1730-1900 : [exhibition and label text], [New Haven, 2006, [p. 1], V 1699:1 (YCBA)


In honor of Paul Mellon, collector and benefactor, Essays, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC & Hanover, NH, 1986, pp. 363-379, N7442.2 M455 1986 (YCBA)


The British Council, British painting in the eighteenth century : an exhibition under the gracious patronage of Her Majesty the Queen. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Toronto, the Toledo Museum of Art, 1957-1958 ..., , [London, 1957, pp. 17, 20, 41, No. 28, ND466 A5 (YCBA)


Philip Sassoon, Loan exhibition of English conversation pieces in aid of the Royal Northern Hospital ... March 4th to 30th (inclusive) 1930, Battley Brothers, [s.l., 1930, no. 136, ND1304 S37 1930 (HAAS)


Philip Sassoon, Loan exhibition of English conversation pieces in aid of the Royal Northern Hospital ... March 4th to 30th (inclusive) 1930, Royal Northern Hospital, [s.l., 1930, no. 136, ND1304 S37 1930 (HAAS)


Luke Herrmann, The Paul Mellon Collection at Burlington House, Connoisseur, v. 157, no. 634, December 1964, p. 214, N1 C75 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) , Another copy available in YCBA Vertical File Collection: v 2334


Geoffrey Agnew, Yale's 1700 Mellon Pictures, The Times (London), issue no. 59989, Thursday, April 28, 1977, p. 9, Available Online : Times Digital Archive , Also available on Microfilm : Film An T842 (SML)


Basil Taylor, The Intimate English Portrait, Apollo, v. 77, no. 14, April, 1963, pp. 270-71, pl. 1, N1 A54 + (YCBA) , Another Copy also available in Vertical File : V 1168


John Baskett, Painting in England: 1700-1850, the Collection of English paintings formed by Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon : on Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Richmind, untik August 18th, Connoisseur, Vol. 153, June 1963, pp. 101-02, N1 C75 + (YCBA)


Toni-Lynn O'Shaughessy, A Single Capacity in the Beggar's Opera, Eighteenth Century Studies, Vol. 21, No. 2, Winter 1987-1988, p. 212-227, Available online , Available online through JStor


Amal Asfour, Hogarth's Post-Newtonian Universe, Journal of the History of Ideas, 1999, pp. 695-96, fig. 30, Available online , Available online through JStor


A. P. (Adopf Paul) Oppe, The drawings of William Hogarth, Phaidon, London, 1948, pp. 32-33, pl. 20, NJ18 H67 O66 (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. 59 (vol. 1), Available Online (ORBIS)


William Hogarth : A Selection of Paintings from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon., , National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., 1971, pp. 17, 38, no. 4, NJ18 H67 U53 (YCBA)


British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, p. 233, fig. 2, N5220 M552 A7 1977 OVERSIZE (YCBA) , Published as April 1977 issue of Apollo; all of the articles may also be found in bound Apollo Volume [N1 A54 105:2 +]


Frederick Antal, Hogarth and his place in European art., Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1962, pp. 26, 59, 61.., NJ18 H67 A63 (YCBA)


Mark Hallett, Hogarth, Phaidon, London, 2000, pp. 44-54, 60, fig. 25, NJ18 H67 H25 2000 (YCBA)


Mary Webster, Johan Zoffany, 1733-1810, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2011, pp. 177, 178,200, fig. 155, NJ18 Z68 W43 2011 + (YCBA)


Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Paul Mellon and collection., Vogue, vol.141,no. 9, May 1963, pp. 130, 131, V 2338 , Original journal aricle also available TT500 V7 HAAS


The Age of Rococo, art and culture of the eighteenth century. 4th exhibition under the patronage of the Council of Europe. 15th June-15th September 1958, the Residenz, Munich. [Translation by Margaret D. Senft-Howie and Brian Sewell, H. Rinn, Munich, 1958, Cat. no. 96, J583 958Mg (LSF)


Sacheverell Sitwell, Narrative pictures, a survey of English genre and its painters, B.T. Batsford, London, 1937, pp. 3, 28, ND466 S5 (YCBA)


Austin Dobson, William Hogarth, Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, London, 1891, pp. 28, 300, 328, NJ18 H67 D65 (YCBA)


Ronald Brymer Beckett, Hogarth's Early Painting II, Burlington Magazine, vol. 90, 1948, p. 167, Available online JSTOR


Ronald Brymer Beckett, Hogarth's Early Painting II, Burlington Magazine, vol. 90, 1948, p. 167, N1 +B87 90 (YCBA)


The Private Collections of England, No. XXXVII, Hornby Castle, Bedale, Marske, Richmond, Athenaeum, no. 2655, September 14, 1878, pp. 343-44, Avaialble Online: British Periodicals II , Also Available : A88 At421+ OVERSIZE (SML)


The Grosvenor Gallery, Winter Exhibition ( First Notice ), Athenaeum, no. 3196, January 26, 1889, p. 123, Available Online: British Periodicals II , Also Available: A88 At421 + OVERSZE (SML)


The Grosvenor Exhibition ( Second Notice ), Athenaeum, no. 3144, January 28, 1888, p. 121, Available Online: British Perriodcals II , Also Available: A88 At421 + OVERSIZE (SML)


John Rich, The Stage's Glory, John Rich, 1692-1761, University of Delaware Press, 2011, pp. 253-54, 258, 261-65, fig. 16.4, PN2598.R4575 S73 2011 + Oversize (YCBA)


John Nichols, The genuine works of William Hogarth, illustrated with biographical anecdotes, a chronological catalogue, and commentary, Longman, London, 1808-1817, v. 3, p. 99, 1977 +418 (BRBL) , Also available on line in Google Books


Tate Britain, Tate Collection, a scene from The beggar's opera VI by William Hogarth, 2011, V 2377 (YCBA) , Also available at http://www.tate.org.uk/


Windows on that world, essays on British art presented to Brian Allen, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, London, 2012, pp. 22-23, fig. 11, N6766 .W56 2012 (YCBA)


Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 33, ND466 G67 (YCBA)


A Great Collection of British Pictures in Virginia, The Times (London), Issue No. 55689, May 1, 1963, p. 5, Available Online : Times Digital Archive , Also available on Microfilm: Film An T482 (SML)


Vic Gatrell, The first bohemians, life and art in London's golden age, Allen Lane, London, 2013, pp. 129, 134-35, 248-49, fig. 57, NX544.L6 G37 2013 (YCBA)


The Cambridge cultural history of Britain, Cambridge University Press, London; New York, 1992, vol. 5, pp. 110-11, NX543 C36 1992 (YCBA)


Hogarth's legacy, XIX, The Lewis Walpole Library, Newaven, 2016, pp. 52-53, 92, 97, 99-102,, fig. 49, NJ18.H67 A12 2016 OVERSIZE (YCBA)


Enlightened Princesses : Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn, 2017, p. 168, fig. 7.05, NX543 +.E55 2017 Oversize (YCBA)


Elizabeth Einberg, William Hogarth : A Complete Catalogue of the Paintings, New Haven, London, 2016, pp. 37-38, cat. 13C, NJ18 H67 +E36 2016 Oversize (YCBA)


Screens, genealogies of the excessive screen, a Mellon Sawyer seminar at Yale, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, p. 6, V 2776 (YCBA)

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