Category Archives: Hogarth

Method of Perspective

Joshua Kirby’s main claim to fame rests on his book, Method of Perspective, or, to give its full title in the 18th century way, `Dr. Brook Taylor’s Method of Perspective Made Easy, Both in Theory and Practice. In Two Books. Being an Attempt to make the Art of Perspective easy and familiar; To Adapt it intirely to the Arts of Design; And To make it an entertaining Study to any Gentleman who shall chuse so polite an Amusement’.

A textbook on perspective may not seem an obvious sequel to his previous antiquarian volume, `An Historical Account of the Twelve Prints of Monasteries, Castles, antient churches, and Monuments, in the County of Suffolk’. While the earlier work had been successful, it was targeted at a Suffolk audience of clergymen, gentry, and local politicians. The Method of Perspective drew in an quite different subscriber list, as we shall see, despite Kirby’s remaining attention to ‘Gentlemen’ and their Amusements. By this time, 1754, Kirby was good friends with both the young Thomas Gainsborough, and the much older William Hogarth. Hogarth supported the endeavor. In his own book, Analysis of Beauty, published in 1753, the only mention of perspective is to give a reference to Kirby’s forthcoming work. More famously, Hogarth supplied the eccentric, and wonderful, frontispiece to Kirby’s book, the Satire on False Perspective, now reproduced in almost every book on perspective.

Related Posts

Who was Brook Taylor?

Brook Taylor’s Linear Perspective

 

William Wollaston

William Wollaston (1693—1757) subscribed to Kirby’s Historical Account. At one time a fabulously wealthy family, the Wollastons made their money in the wool trade and bought Finborough Hall in Suffolk for £10000 in the 1650s, although this was not their primary residence. Wollaston’s father, also William (1660—1724), however was a schoolteacher and philosopher, who tried to suppress his own writings. His most popular work, Religion of Nature Delineated, was only published shortly before his death, but quickly sold ten thousand copies and went through many editions. By living a quiet life, he drew the attention of his cousin William Wollaston, who had inherited the bulk of the estates, had no surviving sons, and was much irritated by importunate relatives. He left pretty much everything to the retired schoolteacher when he died in 1688. Leslie Stephen has a lovely article on the father William Wollaston in the old DNB.

Our William Wollaston lived at Finborough Hall and became MP for Ipswich in 1733 running unopposed in a by-election to replace the deceased former MP. Returned in the 1734 election, he served until 1741, being then replaced by Edward Vernon. In 1730, William Hogarth painted a conversation piece of the Wollaston family.

William Wollaston married Elizabeth Fauquier, whose father was governor of the Bank of England, and together they had eight children. In 1739, he had four of his children inoculated against smallpox, with the Ipswich Journal reporting that they were ‘in a fair way of Recovery’.  His eldest surviving son, William (1731-1797) was himself MP for Ipswich from 1768 to 1784. An amateur musician, he also gave Thomas Gainsborough two important commissions shortly before Gainsborough moved to Bath. One is this portrait:

The other is Gainsborough’s first (surviving) full-length.

Rosenthal (1999) suggests that the two portraits were intended to hang in Gainsborough’s new picture room in Bath to show how successfully he could catch a likeness, the two paintings being recognizably of the same person.

For more on Suffolk MPs, see A Clique of Politicians.

Oddly enough, a Wollaston is currently a member of parliament.