Benjamin Smith after William Hogarth – Sigismonda
Hogarth’s painting of Sigismunda mourning over the heart of her murdered husband Guiscardo (from the Decameron), had originally been commissioned by Sir Richard Grosvenor who had asked Hogarth to paint a picture on any subject he liked. Hogarth chose Sigismunda because an example supposedly by Correggio, but actually by Furini had recently been auctioned for a vast sum.
Outraged by the price Hogarth decided to paint his own version and demand the same price that the Correggio had brought. Understandably Sir Richard was disinclined to accept the painting on these terms, whereupon Hogarth threw a tantrum and took the painting back.
Hogarth subsequently refused to sell the painting for less than £500 (the Correggio had fetched £400) and it remained unsold until the painting was bought by Boydell as part of Jane Hogarth’s estate. The model for the figure of Sigismunda was supposed to be Mrs. Hogarth which may explain why Hogarth was so angry at the attacks made against the painting. Hogarth originally intended the engraving to be done by James Basire but the project was cut short by his death, thus this engraving by Smith was not executed until nearly thirty years later. It shows the elaborately robed, anguished figure of Sigismunda holding a goblet containing Guiscardo’s heart, and leaning over a carved table. She wears a cameo bracelet with his portrait on her wrist. The painting was bequeathed to the Tate Gallery, London by J.H. Anderdon in 1879.
William Hogarth, (born November 10, 1697, London, England—died October 26, 1764, London). The first great English-born artist to attract admiration abroad. Best known for his MORAL and satirical engravings and paintings—e.g., A Rake’s Progress (eight scenes,1733).
His attempts to build a reputation as a history painter and portraitist, however, met with financial disappointment. His aesthetic theories had more influence in Romantic literature than in painting.