When George in pudding-time came o'er
And moderate men looked big, sir,
My principles I chang'd once more,
And so became a Whig, sir.

The Vicar of Bray 1734


A fraternity of virtuosi: the club that Hogarth didn't join, by Gawen Hamilton 1734/35. Or did he ?


"In this select gathering of leading artists of the day Hogarth is notable by his absence, but perhaps that was to be expected in a group which included several Catholics and Tory sympathisers and whose aim was to promote his chief rival Hamilton." Manners & Morals, exhibition catalogue, 1988, p.85. Scott was in the Vicar-of-Bray persuasion, pseudo-Whig Walpole camp by 1735, and it is difficult to think of anyone else to call notable by their absence from this particular group. Monamy would only have been notable by his presence, especially since, as Horace makes plain, he was all washed up by the time George II was into his stride. The two members of this clique he might have had professional dealings with, however, were Gibbs and Kent. It seems pretty clear that although Vertue was well aware of him, he didn't know him at all in any personal sense. The Monamy/Walker conversation piece has to be seen as a statement of somewhat solitary or a-social independence when contrasted with this choice selection of distinguished practitioners. It also has an edge to it, which is lacking in the gathering of apparently chummy virtuosi. Hamilton's self-portrait in this group now strikes me as ambiguous in intent, as if he were slightly at odds with the general ambience. He turns away, and regards the spectator with a knowing look.

Intriguing Note: July 2016

An uncommonly hefty spanner has abruptly been thrown into these scrupulously pondered works.

It has been suggested that the figure at right, appearing on the far left of Gawen Hamilton's "conversation of virtuosi", represents not George Vertue, but, wait for it --- William Hogarth ! Compare left.

Hogarth and Vertue
portrayed by himself and Richardson

The nose has it ! But do the eyes ?

Go to here


Does Hamilton look ashamed of himself ?
The Virtuosi 1735

Bear, like the Turk, no brother near the throne,
View him with scornful, yet with jealous eyes,
And hate for arts that caused himself to rise;
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And, without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike:
Alike reserved to blame, or to commend,
A tim'rous foe, and a suspicious friend;
Dreading e'en fools, by flatterers besieged,
And so obliging that he ne'er obliged;
Like Cato, give his little senate laws,
And sit attentive to his own applause

Alexander Pope, 1735


"A sizeable chunk of art history consists of unravelling other people's errors and substituting your own." Iain Pears, The Raphael Affair, 1990, Chapter 5. Time, I sense, for another page on this ballooning website.

1737: Arrival of the portrait painter, van Loo, in London. "Vanloo, a French portrait painter, being told that the English were to be cajoled by any one who had a sufficient portion of assurance, came to this country, set his trumpeters to work, and by the assistance of puffing, monopolized all the people of fashion in the kingdom. Down went at once ---*, ---*, ---*, ---&c. &c. painters who, before his arrival, were highly fashionable and eminent; but by this foreign interloper were driven into the greatest distress and poverty." Anecdotes of Hogarth, written by himself. See here.

And who are these ? See Ashmolean: An Assembly of Virtuosi, unfinished,
attributed to Gawen Hamilton. 28¼ x 24
A list of names is inscribed at top left hand corner. It may be invented.

the connoisseur and the painter, circa 1730;    circa 1565 [brueghel]  

Tell em the Generous scorn their Rise to owe
To Flattery, Pimping, and a gawdy shew

published in Marvell's works, 1726.


monamy website index
the decorator one
decorations displayed
public display at vauxhall gardens
vauxhall gardens
hogarth, monamy, and the connoisseurs
british painting 1660-1815
british art history


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