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William Hogarth (London 1697-1764)
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William Hogarth (London 1697-1764)

Portrait of Thomas Western (1714-1766), small full-length, in his study at Clare Hall, Cambridge

William Hogarth (London 1697-1764)
Portrait of Thomas Western (1714-1766), small full-length, in his study at Clare Hall, Cambridge
indistinctly inscribed and dated [?] ‘... 1736’ (lower left), and inscribed ‘† this Picture of / Mr. Western was Finish’d / by Mr. Hogarth Oct 10 1734 / AEt Sua 20 years 10 months / and given by him to me / Wm Cole this 18 day Nov 1734†/ Nov 1734 / † William Cole’ and with the sitter’s coat of arms (on the canvas relining, transcribed from the original)
oil on canvas
21¼ x 16½ in. (54 x 41.9 cm.)
Painted for Thomas Western and presented on 18 November 1734 to,
William Cole (1714-1782), by whom bequeathed in 1782 to the sitter’s grandson,
Charles Callis Western, 1st Baron Western (1767-1844), and by descent to,
Sir Thomas Charles Callis Western, 3rd Bt. (1850-1917), Felix Hall, Essex; (†) his sale, Christie’s, London, 13 June 1913, lot 92 (200 gns.).
with Knoedler, New York.
Alfred Morell, U.S.A.
John Hemming Fry, by whom gifted in 1946 to,
The Canton Museum of Art, Ohio.
Cole MSS, British Library, 5819 f. 164, 5826, f. 4.
J. Nichols, Biographical anecdotes of William Hogarth..., London, 1781, p. 149-150.
J. Nichols and G. Steevens, The Genuine Works of William Hogarth, London, 1808, I, pp. 23, 399-400; III, 1817, p. 180.
J. Nichols W. Bowyer, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century..., London, 1812, I, pp. 663-664 and 692.
J. Nichols (ed.), Ancedotes of William Hogarth, written by himself: with essays on his life and genius, and criticisms of his work, London, 1833, p. 386.
C. Fell Smith, ‘The Western Family of Rivenhall - I’, Essex Review, X, 1901, p. 17.
A. Dobson, William Hogarth, London, 1907, p. 222.
W. M. Palmer, William Cole of Milton, Cambridge, 1935, pp. 8, 29-30.
R. B. Beckett, Hogarth, London, 1949, p. 61, pl. 80.
G. Baldini & G. Mandel, L’Opera completa di Hogarth pittore, Milan, 1967, p. 100. no. 85.
M. Webster, Hogarth, London, 1979, p. 183, no. 80. illustrated.
M. Hallet, Hogarth, exhibition catalogue, London, 2006, p. 112, under no. 55.
To be included in E. Einberg’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné of the Paintings of William Hogarth, to be published for the Paul Mellon
Centre for Studies in British Art by Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2016.
British Institution, 1865, no. 123.
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Lot Essay

This highly engaging portrait was painted in 1734 while the sitter, Thomas Western, was attending university at Clare Hall, Cambridge, where he had been since 1731. He is shown seated in a comfortably furnished panelled room, wearing the robes of a Fellow- Commoner, a rank that allowed him to dine at the Fellow’s table. This likeness seems to have been made for Western’s friend, the Rev. William Cole (1714-1782), the distinguished antiquary, who attended Cambridge at the same time and who also became a Fellow-Commoner in 1735. The painting seems to have been given by Western to Cole as a present upon the sitter’s leaving Cambridge to marry Anne Callis in 1735. The work, described by Cole in a letter to John Nichols, dated 6 May 1781, as ‘a full length picture…which I now have in my gallery…one of the most resembling portraits I ever met with’ (Nichols and Bowyer, op cit., p. 663), remained in his collection until his death. In Cole’s will he bequeathed to 'the grandson of me ever esteemed friend…his grandfather’s picture by Mr. Hogarth, if he pleases to accept it and send for it’ (Palmer, op. cit., p. 29). The portrait remained in the family until it was sold at Christie’s in 1913.

The sitter was the son of Thomas Western (d. 1733), MP for Sudbury in Suffolk, and his wife Mary Shirley. The Westerns of Rivenhall, Essex, were among the emerging middle-classes of the early eighteenth century, having made their fortune as foundry masters of government ordnance and timber suppliers to the navy. The sitter and his family were also the subject of Hogarth’s conversation piece, The Western Family, painted in 1738 and now in the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin.

We are grateful to Elizabeth Einberg, who will be including the picture in her forthcoming catalogue raisonné on the artist, for her assistance with this entry.

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