National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of A Scene from The Beggar's Opera William Hogarth (artist)
English, 1697 - 1764
A Scene from The Beggar's Opera, 1728/1729
oil on canvas
overall: 51.1 x 61.2 cm (20 1/8 x 24 1/8 in.) framed: 79.2 x 88.6 x 6.9 cm (31 3/16 x 34 7/8 x 2 11/16 in.)
Paul Mellon Collection
1983.1.42
Not on View
From the Tour: British and American History Paintings of the 1700s
Object 3 of 8

Conservation Notes

The fine canvas is tightly plain woven; it has been lined, but the original tacking margins survive intact. The ground is warm gray and of moderate thickness. There is a thinly applied yellowish green imprimatura. The painting is executed in thin, rich, opaque layers that have an enamellike quality; the figures in the background are sketchily painted. There are pentimenti in the curtain: x-radiographs reveal that Hogarth originally painted upper center a satyr's head set between swags of drapery - which, as in the Yale version of this subject, would probably have borne the motto of Lincoln's Inn Fields Theater: VELUTI IN SPECULUM UTILE DULCI- suspended on either side of what was presumably, although partially beneath the satyr's head, the royal coat of arms. The highlights of the curtain are executed with what appears to be gold foil toned with glazes. The edging of Macheath's pink coat was originally gilded. The paint surface is slightly abraded and has been slightly flattened during lining. The painting is otherwise in good condition. There are scattered retouches applied to abraded surfaces and some of the cracks. The thin natural resin varnish has not discolored.

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