Hogarth first began this self-portrait in the mid-1730s. X-rays have revealed that, at this stage, it showed the artist in a formal coat and wig. Later, however, he changed these to the more informal cap and clothes seen here. The oval canvas containing Hogarth’s self-portrait appears propped up on volumes of Shakespeare, Swift and Milton, authors who inspired Hogarth’s own commitment to drama, satire and epic poetry. Hovering above the surface of his palette is the ‘Line of Beauty and Grace’, which underpinned Hogarth’s own theories on art. Hogarth’s pug dog, Trump, whose features resemble his, serves as an emblem of the artist’s own pugnacious character.
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