This is an engraving of Henry Fielding (1707–1754), the novelist, playwright and founder of the Bow Street Runners (an early form of the Metropolitan Police). William Hogarth (1697–1764), a friend and fan of Fielding's work, drew this likeness from memory in or before 1762. James Basire (1730–1802) took Hogarth’s original portrait and adapted it into this frontispiece to The Works of Henry Fielding (1762).
Below the portrait are items relating to Fielding’s multi-faceted career: the masks represent his contributions to the theatre, the books (including his ground-breaking novels Tom Jones and Joseph Andrews), quill, laurel wreath and paper symbolise his success as an author, and the sword and scales allude to his legal profession.
- Full title:
- Portrait of Henry Fielding; half length, profile to left, in round frame on pedestal with ornaments, including books, masks, quill and sword; frontispiece to Murphy's edition of 'The Works of Henry Fielding'. 1762
- Image / Etching
- William Hogarth, James Basire
- © Trustees of the British Museum
- Usage terms
- Held by
- The British Museum
- Article by:
- John Mullan
- Politeness, sensibility and sentimentalism, Rise of the novel
John Mullan explains how the novel took shape in the 18th century with the works of Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding and Laurence Sterne, and the ways in which the book industry both shaped and responded to the new genre.