Artist biography

GAWEN HAMILTON, attributed to 1698–1737

One of the first generation of native-born painters of conversation pieces, coming close to Hogarth in style and considered by the not altogether unprejudiced Vertue to be even his superior ‘in Colouring and easy gracefull likeness’. His best-known picture is the ‘Club of Artist’ of 1735 in the National portrait Gallery.

Born in 1698, he arrived in London from Hamilton, in the west of Scotland, c. 1726 and gave up life-size portraiture for conversation pieces c. 1730; noted by Vertue as one of ‘the most elevated Men in Art here now, [who] are the lowest of stature’. Lived near St Paul's, Covent Garden, and was buried there 28 October 1737.

LITERATURE H.F. Finberg, ‘Gawen Hamilton: An Unknown Scottish Portrait Painter’, Walpole Society, VI, 1918, pp.51–58