T01804 The Indian Emperor 1792
Engraving 406×540 (16×21 1/4) on paper, 466×603 (18 3/8×23 3/4); cut to plate-mark
Writing-engraving (with some losses through damage to the paper) ‘Painted by Wm Hogarth|Engrav'd by Rob! Dodd|THE INDIAN EMPEROR,|Or the Conquest of Mexico; Act 4. Scene 4.|As perfor [...]r 1731, at Mr. Conduit's, Master of the Mint, before the Duke of Cumberland & c|[...] the original Picture in the Collection of Lord Holland.|Publish'd Jan.y 1 1792, by J. & J. Boydell, Cheapside, & at the Shakespeare Gallery Pall Mall.’
Transferred from the reference collection 1973
LITERATURE Ireland, II, 1793, facing p.331 (key to sitters); Dobson 1907, pp.272–3; Paulson 1971, I, pp.301–4, 540 n.2
The scene, the original painting for which is still in the collection of Lord Holland's descendants, shows a private children's performance of Dryden's The Indian Emperor or The Conquest of Mexico, produced by John Conduitt, Master of the Mint, at his town house in Hanover Square, and repeated at the Duke of Cumberland's request at St James's Palace before the Royal Family on 27 April 1732. Conduitt commissioned Hogarth to commemorate the occasion with a conversation piece ‘of the young People of Quality that acted at his house’. Hence Boydell's much later key to the sitters, which identifies some of the grown-ups whose heads are averted, is unlikely to be accurate. In Boydell's Catalogue of Plates, 1803, Dodd's print is described as a companion to Blake's engraving of ‘The Beggar's Opera’ (T01801).
Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988