THE BRUISER, C. CHURCHILL (once the Rev’d !) in the Character of a Russian Hercules, regaling himself after having Kill’d the Monster Caricatura that so Sorely Gall’d his Virtuous friend, the Heaven born Wilkes !
London, William Hogarth August 1st 1763
Trimmed within platemark and slightly within publication line.
An early state, before the caricature was added to the palette. Hogarth’s cruel satire on the drunken and syphilitic clergyman and friend of the radical John Wilkes, Charles Churchill. Churchill had objected to Hogarth’s satiric portrayal of the extremely ugly Wilkes, and on July 2nd 1763 had replied to its publication with a condemnatory pamphlet An Epistle to William Hogarth, which dwelt on Hogarth’s physical and artistic decline (he died the following year). Enraged and embittered, Hogarth’s response to this relatively mild criticism was typically over the top. He took the copperplate of his famous self portrait with his pugdog Trump, burnished out his own image from the oval canvas and replaced it with a huge, ugly bear representing Churchill, wearing soiled and torn clerical bands, clutching a frothing tankard full of beer and leaning on a ragged staff whose knotholes are inscribed Lyes. The portrait now rests on a pile of books inscribed Great George Street. A List of Subscribers to the North Briton (Wilkes lived at this time at Great George St. and his seditious newssheet was the ‘North Briton’) and A new way to pay Old Debts etc. Trump now pisses on Churchill’s An Epistle to Hogarth by C. Churchill and in the foreground, resting on a fold of curtain is Hogarth’s empty palette (symbolizing that his artistic inspiration had deserted him). Paulson 215 state IV / VIII.