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This recently rediscovered sketch comes from the collection of Jane Hogarth, the artist's widow. It had been lost since 1799, but was known from a crude engraving of that date. Traditionally it is said to represent Mary Fitzwilliam, wife of the 9th Earl of Pembroke, whose beauty and dignity so impressed Hogarth that he made this sketch of her from memory. Certainly it is a serious and rare attempt made by the artist to represent ideal feminine beauty. As such it exemplifies his ever-present ambition to be recognised not only as a painter of satires and forthright portraits, but also of subjects of a more elevated nature.

August 2004