Wednesday, 7th November
“The Struggles of Nathaniel Hone (1718-1784), an independent Irish artist in London”
by Adrian Le Harivel *
Curator of British Painting, National Gallery of Ireland
at the Metropole Hotel, MacCurtain Street, Cork City Centre
reception at 7 p.m., lecture begins at 7:45 p.m. All welcome, non-members €15, students €5.
To mark the 300th Anniversary of his birth, this sheds light on someone still little known. Coming from a merchant family, he was probably self-taught, when there was no art school in Dublin. Hone moved to England in 1742 to make his reputation and married an heiress in York. They were soon in London, where his early oil portraits are unsophisticated, though he showed genius in tiny watercolour on ivory and enamel portraits. He might have made his reputation in this field, as others before him and his son Horace afterwards, but was part of the emerging generation who wanted to establish British painting as worthy of European attention. His range of sitters included actresses and judges, even Rev. John Welsey and famous beggar, John Turner, so not just the usual merchant and noble circles. He also exploited his own children in subjects with popular appeal. Hone was a founder member of the Royal Academy in 1768. Known as argumentative and free-thinking, he remained something of an outsider, like William Hogarth. Hone tried to exhibit The Conjuror in 1775, which contained a witty critique of President, Joshua Reynolds and his tendency to borrow compositions for his portraits from Old Masters. It was rejected from the Annual Summer Exhibition, under the pretext of attack on woman artist, Angelica Kauffman. With typical gusto, he then held a one-man exhibition on St Martin’s Lane. Hone was an admirer of Rembrandt, especially his truth to nature, in contrast to the prevailing devotion to Italian art. This influenced his pictures, especially the remarkable series of self-portraits throughout his career that document his sense of status at the time.
* For the speaker’s full credentials see, Menu, Speakers