William Hogarth

Portrait of Hannah, Daughter of John Ranby Snr


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Not on display

William Hogarth 1697–1764
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 635 × 565 mm
frame: 802 × 732 × 67 mm
Presented by Mrs Gilbert Cousland 1996 to celebrate the Tate Gallery Centenary and the Hogarth Tercentenary 1997


Hannah (1740-81) was the natural daughter of John Ranby F.R.S. (1703-73), Principal Sargeant Surgeon to George II and to the Chelsea Hospital. Ranby was a friend and neighbour of the Hogarths at Chiswick. The identity of Hannah's mother is unknown. In 1758 Hannah married Walter Waring, MP for Bishops Castle, Shropshire and later for Coventry, who in 1769 inherited his cousin's estate at Groton, Suffolk.

This portrait is a pair to Hogarth's George Osborne, later John Ranby, Tate Gallery no.T07121. Both have elaborate painted stone surrounds. In Hannah's portrait the surround overlies a more simple oval one, whereas in her brother's the surround was always as we see it today. This suggests that Hogarth reworked Hannah's portrait so that its surround matched the one in the boy's portrait, and therefore that Hannah's portrait was painted first.

Further reading:
<!UL><!LI>Elizabeth Einberg, Manners & Morals: Hogarth and British Painting 1700-1760, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery 1987, pp.204-5, reproduced in colour p.204
<!LI>Elizabeth Einberg, Hogarth the Painter, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery 1997, p.49, reproduced in colour <!/UL>

Leslie Parris
June 1997

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Display caption

Hannah and George Osborne, aged here about nine and six respectively, were the natural children of Dr John Ranby, physician to the royal household and a friend and neighbour of Hogarth in Chiswick. George was brought up as Ranby’s heir and changed his name to John Ranby by royal license in 1756. Although he was childless, Hogarth had a deep sympathy for children, especially those disadvantaged by poverty or the circumstances of their birth. In 1740 he became a leading light in London’s Foundling Hospital, which cared for orphaned children: he and his wife also acted as foster parents.

Gallery label, May 2007

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Technique and condition

Hannah's portrait is painted in oil paint on plain-woven, linen canvas prepared with a grey, oil-based ground. The technique used for the painting is a fairly elaborate one, which was used to a greater or lesser extent by the Dutch and Flemish portrait painters who worked in England during the seventeenth century. Hogarth would have been familiar with it by looking at their work and perhaps also by reading contemporary manuals of painting in which it is described. After sketching in the pose, probably with chalk lines or very thin paint, he went on to the stage known as 'dead colouring'. For this he would have mixed up on the palette a range of opaque, muted colours relating to the various areas: low-key flesh tones made from lead white, red and yellow ochres, black and blue; three tones of pale yellow for the dress; a number of greyish browns for the background and original plain oval. Working these colours on the painting wet-in-wet, he would have established a solid image of the figure, the likeness and the surrounding space. Once this was dry, he was free to work up the painting as he needed, using mixtures containing brighter pigments, for example vermilion and lake in the flesh tones, or glazing over certain areas to deepen or enrich a colour. The whole of her dress was glazed over with a pigment, probably a yellow lake, that has since faded, leaving only a brownish layer of oil on top of the solid dead colouring. Close examination of the head reveals the dead colouring left visible to create the recessive areas of the face - the eye sockets, hairline and edges - in contrast to the brighter mixtures applied as a second layer to the cheeks, forehead and chin.

The type of ageing that has developed in the elaborate architectural surround indicates that the underlying plain oval had been completed and was fully dry when the painting was altered.

Selected further reading:
Rica Jones, 'The Artist's Training and Techniques', in Manners and Morals: Hogarth and British Painting 1700-1760, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London, October to January 1987 - 1988, pp.19-28

Rica Jones
June 1997

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