1718-84 [The Elder]; b. Dublin, 24 April; son of a Wood Quay merchant and treasurer of the Eustace St. Presbyterian Congreg. Chapel; family from Holland; probably self-taught; first met with as itinerant portrait painter in England; m. 1742, and settled in London with propertied wife; studied in Italy, 1750-52; practised success-fully in London as portraitist in oils and miniature; fnd-member RHA, 1768; his picture Pictorial Conjurer, Displaying the Whole Art of Optical Deception (1775), removed as ridiculing Sir Joshua Reynolds and containing nude figure of caricature of Angelica Kaufmann - painted out in the canvas at NGI;
arranged his own private show in London to show The Conjurer, along with 70 other works, called the first independent show exhibition in London; also Piping Boy (1769; NGI); d. 14 Aug., 44 Rathbone Place, London. ODNB DIB BREF FDA
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RTÉ, Sunday Miscellany (14 Aug. 1994): The Reynolds painting shows the painter with a book (The Contagious Paintings of the Masters), with examples flying from it. It is possible that the figure of Kaufmann was the girl originally by the Conjurers side, and that Kaufmann and he wished it extirpated because of the suggestion of a relationship between them; the original of the doctored painting is in the National Gallery, Dublin, while the sketch is in London.
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Dictionary of National Biography [entry by W G Strickland]. Hones diary is British Library MS 1752-3, 44, 024-5. Hone sent to RA a satirical painting showing Grose and Theophilus Forrest as two Franciscan friars regaling themselves with punch in Two Gentlemen in Masquerade, one stirring the liquid with a crucifix, but was persuaded to replace it with a ladle for the exhibition, and later restored it; in 1774. The Conjurer satirises Reynolds plagiarism of Van Dyck and the classical painters, and suggests that Reynolds had formed an intimacy with Angelica Kaufmann (Cruickshank, p.48); refused by RA in spite of alterations; Hone held retrospective at 70, Martins Lane, with exhibits totalling more than 100, the catalogue being a defence and justification of his achievement; jealous hot-temper not forgotten by Nollekens and others; exhibited again at RA; moved to house in Pall Mall formerly occupied by Jervas and Astley; kept a famous black woman in it as his model; at the posthumous sale of his paintings, J T Smith noticed Reynolds most attentively view the picture of The Conjurer for full ten minutes.
Brian de Breffny, Ireland: A Cultural Encyclopaedia (London: Thames & Hudson 1983); probably trained in Dublin before going to England in 1742; best known at first as enamel miniaturist; influenced by Dutch art, using Rembrandts chiaroscuro; founder Royal Academician, but left after the rejection of his satire on Reynolds (The Conjuror, 1775, NGI), in which he ridiculed contemporary taste for Italian art; had one of the earliest recorded one-man shows; self-portraits and portraits of his children justly famous. See also Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, p.322. Note: The Conjurer is reprinted in de Breffny, p.118 facing.
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Portraits, see Ann Cruikshank and the Knight of Glin, Irish Portraits 1600-1860 [Catalogue] (1969), p.47-48, and Crookshank, Portrait Exhibition [Cat.] (Ulster Museum 1965) [self-port.].
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