Martin Folkes Esqr.
London, William Hogarth c. 1750
A fine lifetime impression, a half length portrait of the numismatist, mathematician, dillettante and antiquary Martin Folkes (1690-1754). Elected a member of the Royal Society aged twenty four, he became Vice President on the nomination of Sir Isaac Newton in 1723. He subsequently became President in 1741after Sir Hans Sloane retired and was also President of the Society of Antiquaries from 1750 until his death. A fellow Governor of the Foundling Hospital with Hogarth, Folkes was notorious for his ‘irreligious attitudes’ and was criticised by his enemies for making the Royal Society a laughing stock by allowing ‘trifling and puerile papers’ mainly on antiquarian topics. Folkes presented this painting to the Royal Society in 1742. In this portrait Hogarth shows Folkes sitting slightly obliquely to the left, right hand raised with pointing finger and wearing an unbuttoned coat and waistcoat, and long curled wig. His broad fleshy face and thick lips hint at Folkes’ dissipated reputation and irregular private life. Paulson 154 IV/IV.