Monday, 9 November 2015


THOMAS COOMBES, AGED 108 oil on canvas, by William Hogarth 1742
10 November 1697 – 26 October 1764

Famous Art Critic Waldemar Januszczak, said of William Hogarth that he "looked more like his pug than the pug did": That combined with him saying that Hogarth was the "master of modern portraiture", peaked my interest. Of course I had heard the name, but I must admit I had never studied his work possibly because the undercurrents in most of his work are very dark. He is also credited with pioneering western sequential art.

Curiosity peaked, I had to study Hogarths portraits. The painting above does an amazing job of getting into the soul of an old man. The eyes are alert and farseeing as if looking back on a life of hard work and hard earned knowledge. The hair has the thin light quality that comes with age. The skin looks like a windfall apple left to dry on the windowsill. The rest of the portrait is sketchily painted with mostly dark values which allow the face to take center stage ... and what a face! He looks like he is determined not to complain during those long hours of posing for the artist. There is a hint of regimental training in that courage don't you think? I could look at this painting forever and always find something new, which is the true mark of a great painting.

For more of Hogarths work demonstrating his versatility, including engravings, sketches, satire, sequences, historical commissions etc. click here

I would love to be a portrait painter but I've had very little practice and no training. Perhaps that would be an interesting new challenge to set for myself. After all would it be that much more difficult to paint a person than a pet or a Tamarin?

2.5" X 3.5" Canvas Card