William Hogarth (English, London 1697 - 1764 London)
Portrait of Theodore Jacobsen, 1742
Signed and dated lower right, also inscribed1
Oil on canvas
Support: 36 1/16 x 28 1/16 in. (91.6 x 71.3 cm)
R.T. Miller, Jr. Fund, 1942
Theodore Jacobsen, a successful merchant and amateur architect, was, like Hogarth, a staunch supporter of the Foundling Hospital in London. This unaffected yet dignified likeness, rendered with loose and delicate brushwork, illustrates Hogarth's uniquely sympathetic approach to portraiture.
Through his work for the Foundling Hospital in London (now the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children), Hogarth was acquainted with Theodore Jacobsen (ca. 1686-1772), a successful merchant and amateur architect. The hospital was established by royal charter in 1739 to provide for the children of unwed mothers. In addition, thanks in large measure to Hogarth's constant campaigning on behalf of English art, the hospital's premises functioned as an exhibition hall for the public display of works by English artists, works which had all been charitably donated by their makers. Like Hogarth, Theodore Jacobsen was actively involved in the founding of the hospital, and had in fact contributed the architectural design for the building.2
Hogarth's portrait of Jacobsen may have been painted for Sir Jacob Bouverie, the vice-president of the Foundling Hospital (see Provenance and note 6). Prior to 1955, it was thought that the architectural plan shown in Jacobsen's hand in the Oberlin painting was related to the construction and alterations of Longford Castle (Bouverie's estate), although Jacobsen's name appears in none of the official architectural records of the castle. The cleaning of the painting in 1955 revealed an elevation painted directly beneath the plan, and an inscription identifying the design as a triangular house by Jacobsen (see note 1 above and Technical Data). The elevation and inscription correspond almost exactly to those in an engraving by Pierre Fourdrinier after Jacobsen's design.3
Hogarth's Portrait of Theodore Jacobsen is an excellent example of his mature portrait style, conveying middle-class solidity in an unaffected yet dignified manner. A more flamboyant work from this period is the magisterial full-length portrait of Captain Thomas Coram, the founder of the Foundling Hospital (1740; Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, London). In the present painting, Hogarth's touch is broad yet delicate, and still more controlled than the bravura strokes that characterize his later portraits. The loose brushwork, combined with Jacobsen's relaxed, almost casual pose, heightens the impression of a lively, direct personality. Like his portrait of the mathematician (and fellow governor of the Foundling Hospital) William Jones, dated 1740 (London, National Portrait Gallery), the Oberlin portrait reveals Hogarth's "impressive ability to create...an image of vitality, intelligence and utter dignity with a minimum of fuss."4
Hogarth's intimate and personal approach to portraiture, so eloquently embodied in the portrait of Theodore Jacobsen, is particularly evident when juxtaposed with another portrait of the same sitter--in this instance, by Thomas Hudson (1746; London, Thomas Coram Foundation for Children). Although Hudson modeled the head of his sitter on the likeness in Hogarth's painting, the elegant full-length pose and tighter brushwork of Hudson's portrait endow the sitter with a more aristocratic aura, at the expense of much of the warmth and individuality that characterizes Hogarth's likeness of Jacobsen.5
M. E. Wieseman, with the assistance of Susan Anderson, OC 1996
As both painter and printmaker, William Hogarth was perhaps the most influential and original British artist. Born in London on 10 November 1697, he was the son of a classical scholar who earned a living as a schoolmaster. Hogarth began his career as a goldsmith's apprentice and engraver of silver. He began engraving prints in 1720 but, frustrated by a lack of recognition for his skills as a designer of book illustrations and satirical prints, in the late 1720s he turned his hand to painting. His earliest paintings are group and single-figure portraits, and lively scenes from John Gay's popular Beggar's Opera. From the mid 1730s through the 1750s Hogarth produced a prolific number of paintings and prints--portraits, representations of contemporary events, and "modern moral Subjects": contemporary moral progresses presented in a series of comic images (The Harlot's Progress, Marriage à la Mode, etc.). The success of these printed series inspired numerous pirated copies, inciting Hogarth to campaign for the passage of the Copyright Act of 1735. Hogarth was an outspoken advocate for a national English school of art, freed from the traditions of the Continental schools. This concern certainly impacted his role as a founding governor of the Foundling Hospital in London, which provided a much needed space for the public display of English art. In 1753 Hogarth published The Analysis of Beauty, which was devoted to the principles of aesthetic theory, and was the first such treatise to define beauty in purely empirical terms. The artist died in London on 26 October 1764.
Hogarth. Exh. cat., The Tate Gallery, London, 1972.
Bindman, David, and Brian Allen. Hogarth. New Haven, 1988.
Paulson, Ronald. Hogarth. 3 vols. New Brunswick, 1992.
Possibly painted for Sir Jacob Bouverie, Bart. (later Lord Folkestone)6
Possibly by descent to the earl of Radnor, Longford Castle, near Salisbury, Wiltshire
Collection William Davies, London, 18177 (but not in his sale, London [Christie's], 9 June 1821)
Collection George Watson Taylor (died 1820), London and Earlstoke Park, Wiltshire
His sale, London (Robins), 24 July 1832, lot 45 (£12.12, to Woodin)
Collection Henry Ralph Willet, Merly House, Canford, Dorset
Sale London (Christie's), 10 July 1869, lot 52 (bought in)
Bequeathed by Willet to an unnamed collector; by descent in this family until:
Sale London (Christie's), 12 January 1942, lot 161 (£735, to Knoedler)
With M. Knoedler & Co., New York, from whom purchased in 1942
Northampton, Mass., Smith College Museum of Art, 1944. Paintings, Watercolors, Drawings and Prints by William Hogarth. October - November. No cat.
Milwaukee, Art Institute, 1946. Three Centuries of British Art. 18 October - 1 December. No cat.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1952. Great Portraits by Famous Painters. 13 November - 21 December. Cat. no. 18.
New York, M. Knoedler & Company, Inc., 1954. Paintings and Drawings from Five Centuries: Collection Allen Memorial Art Museum. 3 - 21 February. Cat. no. 52.
Kansas City, Missouri, Nelson Gallery and Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, 1956. The Century of Mozart. 15 January - 4 March. Cat. no. 54.
Malmö, Sweden, Radhüs, 1956. Masterworks from American University Museums. (sponsored by the College Art Association). 30 June - 15 July (also shown at Utrecht, Centraal Museum [as cat. no. 22]; Birmingham; London, University of London, Senate House; Durham, University of Durham; Kings College; Brussels, Palais des Beaux-Arts; Liège, Musée des Beaux-Arts; Lyon, Musée des Beaux-Arts [as cat. no. 17]; Marburg, University Museum; Tübingen, Tübingen University Museum; and Besançon). Cat. no. 25.
Grand Rapids, Mich., 1962. Art Museum of the Month. 25 February - 4 March. No cat.
Kenwood, London County Council, 1962. An American University Collection: Works of Art from the Allen Memorial Art Museum. 3 May - 30 October. Cat. no. 2.
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1966. Treasures from the Allen Memorial Art Museum. 21 July - 11 September. No cat.
Richmond, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1967. William Hogarth. 30 January - 5 March. Cat. no. 25.
London, The Tate Gallery, 1971-72. Hogarth. 2 December - 6 February. Cat. no. 131.
Oberlin, Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, 1995. "A more new way of proceeding...": Representation and Narrative in the Art of William Hogarth. 23 March - 31 May. Cat. no. 34.
Nichols, J., and G. Steevens. The Genuine Works of William Hogarth. Vol. 3. London, 1817, p. 178.
Nichols, J. B., ed. Anecdotes of William Hogarth Written by Himself. London, 1833, p. 386.
Dobson, A., and Sir Walter Armstrong. William Hogarth. London, 1902, p. 182.
Dobson, A. William Hogarth. London, 1907, p. 215.
Simpson, L. N., with C. Hussey. "The Architect of the Foundling Hospital." Country Life(27 March 1942), p. 621.
Stechow, Wolfgang. "'Theodore Jacobsen' by William Hogarth." Art Quarterly 6 (1943), pp. 70-71.
Beckett, R. B. "Famous Hogarths in America." Art in America 36 (1948), pp. 173, 174 ill.
Beckett, R. B. Hogarth. London, 1949, pp. 15, 56, fig. 135.
Colvin, H. M. A Bibliographic Dictionary of English Architects 1660-1840. Cambridge, Mass., 1954, p. 313.
Hamilton, Chloe. "Catalogue of R. T. Miller, Jr. Fund Acquisitions." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin 16, no. 2 (Winter 1959), cat. no. 22; no. 3 (Spring 1959), ill. p. 249.
"The Thomas Coram Foundation for Children." The Burlington Magazine 108 (September 1966), p. 448, n. 6.
Stechow, Wolfgang. Catalogue of European and American Paintings and Sculpture in the Allen Memorial Art Museum Oberlin College. Oberlin, 1967, pp. 75-77, fig. 85.
Gowing, Lawrence. Hogarth. Exh. cat., The Tate Gallery, London, 1971-72, p. 55.
Butlin, Martin. "Hogarth at the Tate Gallery." The Connoisseur (January 1972), p. 7, ill.
Paulson, Ronald. "Hogarth the Painter: The Exhibition at the Tate." The Burlington Magazine 114 (February 1972), pp. 76-77, ill.
Nicholson, Benedict. The Treasures of the Foundling Hospital. Oxford, 1972, pp. 15-16, pl. 18.
Omberg, Hildegarde. William Hogarth's Portrait of Captain Coram. Uppsala, 1974, p. 114, pl. 28.
Spear, Richard E. "Baroque Paintings from Ligozzi to Hogarth." Apollo 103, no. 168 (February 1976), pp. 110-11.
Einberg, Elizabeth. Manners and Morals: Hogarth and British Painting 1700-1760. Exh. cat., The Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 175.
Paulson, Ronald. Hogarth. Vol. 2, High Art and Low, 1732-1750. New Brunswick, 1992, pp. 331, 416-17 n. 31, 442 n. 15.
The original canvas was lined in the nineteenth century with a glue lining, and again in 1955, using a wax-resin adhesive. At this time (1955), the canvas was removed from its original stretcher and restretched onto an ICA-type spring stretcher. Tacking margins have been removed on all sides, but cusping of the threads indicates that the original size of the painting has not been significantly altered. There is a fairly significant amount of inpainting throughout, some associated with losses and some with the rather prominent drying crackle. An area at the bottom right was treated for blistering in 1972, and there is some cupping of the paint at lower left. The painting was last cleaned in 1990. Pentimenti in the paper held by the sitter (revealed in the course of cleaning, 1955) show an architectural elevation and an inscription across the top of the sheet, "Elevation of a Triangular House by Theodore Jacobson [sic], Esq.," over which the triangular ground plan was painted.
During the nineteenth-century relining, a fragment was removed from the original canvas and preserved, containing the inscription: "Portrait of Jacobson [sic] the Architect / with a plan of Longford Castle, Wilts. / by W. Hogarth. 1742."9
1. Signed and dated on ledge at lower right: W. Hogarth pinx. 1742; inscribed at top, above sitter's head: Theodore Jacobsen, Esq.; and across top of paper held by the sitter, bottom left: ...of a Triangular House by Theodore Jacobson [sic], Esq.
2. On the history of the Foundling Hospital and its building, see R. H. Nichols and F. A. Wray, The History of the Foundling Hospital (London, 1935); and, more specifically on the art collection, Benedict Nicolson and John Kerslake, The Treasures of the Foundling Hospital (Oxford, 1972). Jacobsen's structure was demolished in 1928.
3. H. M. Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of English Architects 1660-1840 (Cambridge, Mass., 1954), p. 313. Fourdrinier's print is reproduced in Benedict Nicolson and John Kerslake, The Treasures of the Foundling Hospital (Oxford, 1972), pl. 19; the structure itself was probably never built.
4. Elizabeth Einberg, in Manners and Morals: Hogarth and British Painting 1700-1760 (exh. cat, The Tate Gallery, London, 1988), p. 138, under cat. no. 118.
5. Hildegard Omberg, William Hogarth's Portrait of Captain Coram (Uppsala, 1974), p. 114. Hudson's painting is reproduced and discussed in Manners and Morals: Hogarth and British Painting 1700-1760 (exh. cat., The Tate Gallery, London, 1988), p. 138; see also Benedict Nicolson and John Kerslake, The Treasures of the Foundling Hospital (Oxford, 1972), p. 71, no. 44. There is also a portrait of Jacobsen by William Verelst, dated 1736 (Philadelphia, private collection).
6. The painting is traditionally assumed to have been in this collection because--in addition to the fact that the plan which Jacobsen holds in his hand was wrongly identified as related to Bouverie's seat, Longford Castle--both Jacobsen and Bouverie were governors of the Foundling Hospital, and Jacobsen was employed by Bouverie as an architectural advisor about 1738-40.
7. J. Nichols and G. Steevens, The Genuine Works of William Hogarth, vol. 3 (London, 1817), p. 178.
8. Andrew Butterfield, "Social Structure and the Typology of Funerary Monuments in Early Renaissance Florence," RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 26 (Autumn 1994), pp. 47-67.
9. The fragment is in the files of the Allen Memorial Art Museum. It is not known when the inscription was added.