The Illustrated London News

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Echoes of the Week

The Illustrated London News, vol. 47, no. 1332, p. 187.

August 26, 1865


...Here, however, is a stray leaf of the "enormous gooseberry" plant. The colour-box used by William Hogarth, I read in a daily journal, is in the possession of a certain Colonel in Jersey city, N.J., United States. It is so many inches square and so many inches deep. This historical paintbox, we are told, was purchased by one of the Colonel's English ancestors "at the sale of Hogarth's effects, which took place in London shortly after his decease." Now, that Hogarth's colour-box, or his palette, or his snuffbox (if he took snuff), or his wig should be in the possession of any lady or gentleman in America or elsewhere, is perfectly feasible. This particular "box" story, however, loses its credibility from the fact that no sale of William Hogarth's effects took place shortly after or for a great many years following his death. His widow, faithful Jane Thornhill, clave to the house in Leicester-fields, and till she died--a very old lady indeed, almost within the memory of men still living--sold nothing belonging to her husband, save impressions from his engravings. John Thomas Smith, the engraver, remembered very well going to Mrs. Hogarth to buy a copy of "The Modern Midnight Conversation," and the widow receiving him in the front parlour, and showing him a milkmaid's head in oil from the hand of William. "They said he could not colour," cried the good old dame. "They lied. There's flesh and blood for you!" I am afraid it is somebody else's paintbox of which the New Jersey Colonel has got hold...

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