Joseph van Aken was a painter of conversation and genre scenes, working in England at the same time as Hogarth. He arrived in London with his family circa 1720, though the English writer and engraver, George Vertue, first notices him in 1737, remarking that he had lately excelled in painting 'particularly the postures for painters of portraits who send their pictures when they have done the faces to be dressed and decorated by him' (R. Edwards, 'The Conversation Pictures of Joseph van Aken', Apollo, XXIII, 1936, op. cit., p. 80). It was Van Aken's strength in rendering materials of all kinds - satins, velvets and gold lace - that prompted the artist to abandon his independent work in the 1730s and 1740s and to take up employment as a drapery painter for other artists. His output was so prolific that it has led some to comment that English portraiture in the age of Reynolds would not have existed without him. In fact, Horace Walpole went as far as to say that 'almost every painter's works were painted by van Aken' (ibid.). Hogarth commemorated Van Aken's death in 1749 with a caricature depicting the disconsolate portrait painters lamenting at his funeral (ibid. op. cit., p. 81).