The Hervey Conversation Piece
William Hogarth (London 1697 - London 1764)
Art / Oil paintings
1738 - 1740
Oil on canvas
1016 x 1270 mm (40 x 50 in)
Place of origin
LondonOrder this image
Oil painting on canvas, The Hervey Conversation Piece by William Hogarth (London 1697 - London 1764), signed, on flower pot, right foreground: W. Hogarth pinx, 1738-40. A conversation piece painted for John Hervey, 2nd Baron Hervey of Ickworth (1696-1743), who stands at centre, wearing the gold key, the badge of his office as Vice-Chamberlain to the Royal Household. Hervey gestures at an architectural plan (probably from Isaac Ware's Palladio) being held up by Henry Fox, later 1st Baron Holland (1705-74), and Surveyor-General of the King's Works. Fox's elder brother, Stephen (1704-76), later Joint Secretary to the Treasury and 1st Earl of Ilchester, is seated at a table, laden with fruit and wine, a small dog at his feet. Stephen Fox's walking stick upsets the chair on which a clergyman, peering through a telescope, teeters, precariously close to the river behind him. Wearing red, seated to Hervey's left and leaning towards him, gesturing, is Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough (1706-58), a colleague of Hervey's in the Royal Household, having been made a Gentleman of the King's Bedchamber in 1738. Beside Spencer, with his foot resting on a garden roller, is the Whig politician Thomas Winnington (1696-1746). The men are assembled inside a walled garden or park, beside a river, and before a wrought-iron gate from which a path winds up a hill to a village and church. A statue of Minerva enthroned is mounted atop a pedestal at right, next to a blooming rose bush. A near-contemporary copy attributed to Ranelagh Barrett (fl. 1737-68) , c. l739-45 (private collection), hung at Redlynch, Wiltshire, the house of Lord Ilchester. Barrett supplied several copies of pictures for Lord Ilchester's collection at Redlynch (Einburg 2016, p. 8, fn. 5). It was the copy at Redlynch that Horace Walpole saw, the protagonists in that picture identified by or to him as 'Charles Duke of Marlborough, Lord Hervey, Mr Winnington, Mr Fox and Lord Ilchester, and Desaguliers, in one piece; a copy from one by Hogarth, in possession of Lord Hervey' (Walpole in Toynbee 1928, p. 44). Thus the parson in this picture is usually identified as the Reverend John Theophilus Desaguliers (1683-1744), natural philosopher, clergyman, engineer and freemason. Most recently the art historian Elizabeth Einburg has proposed he is the Revered Conyers Middleton (1683-1750).
Presumably by descent from Lord Hervey to his sons, the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Earl of Bristol, and thus to successive Marquesses of Bristol (first mentioned in a list of circa 1837, as: "Assemblage of Political persons of the Day, by Hogarth") until surrendered to HM Treasury, in lieu of the death duty payable on the estate of the 4th Marquess (1863-1951); loaned to the National Trust in 1956 under the auspices of the National Land Fund, later the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and then transferred to the National Trust in 1983.
Ickworth, The Bristol Collection (acquired through the National Land Fund and transferred to The National Trust in 1956)
Makers and roles
William Hogarth (London 1697 - London 1764), artist
Hogarth and Europe, Tate Britain, London, 2021 - 2022 Hogarth, Musée du Louvre, Paris , 2006 - 2007, no.56 Hogarth, Tate Britain, London, 2006 - 2007, no.56 Hogarth, CaixaForum Museum, Madrid, 2006 - 2007, no.56 In Trust for the Nation, National Gallery, London, 1995 - 1996, no.20 The Treasure Houses of Britain, National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA, 1985 - 1986, no.164
Hervey 1894 S.H.A. Hervey, Diary of John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, 1894, Appendix II: 'List of all Hervey portraits', p.271 Beckett 1949 R. B. Beckett, Hogarth, 1949, p.44 & pl.95 Ilchester 1950 The Earl of Ilchester, Lord Hervey and his Friends, 1726—38, 1950, pp.20 & 228 Antal 1962 Frederick Antal, Hogarth and his Place in European Art, 1962, pp.33 & 223 n.97 & pl.73b Paulson 1971 Ronald Paulson, Hogarth: His Life, Art and Times, New Haven, 1971, 2 vols., vol.I, p.458 & pl.177 Halsband 1973 Robert Halsband, Lord Hervey: Eighteenth Century Courtier, Oxford, Clarendon Press1973, pp.239 & 343 n.37 & pl.14 Paulson, 1991, 1992 Ronald Paulson, Hogarth, New Brunswick, i, 1991; ii, 1992, Vol. II, pp.174—76 & 418—19 nn.54—57 & fig.79. Hogarth, Reynolds, Turner: British Painting and the Rise of Modernity (ed. Carolina Brook, Valter Curzi), Fondazione Roma Museo, Palazzo Sciarra, Rome,15 April - 20 July 2014, 44 Simon 2007 R. Simon, Hogarth, France & British Art: The Rise of the Arts in Eighteenth-century Britain, London, 2007, pp. 234-40 Einberg 2016: Elizabeth Einberg, 'Lord Hervey's choice: Reconsidering "The Hervey Conversation Piece" by William Hogarth (1697–1764)', The British Art Journal, Spring 2016, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 8-15