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After John Hamilton Mortimer (1740-79)

A self-portrait in character c. 1775-80

Etching | 38.9 x 30.4 cm (sheet of paper) | RCIN 659153

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John Hamilton Mortimer was born into a prosperous family and was impatient for success, wanting the life of an independent liberal artist rather than an honest craftsman. Many of his paintings were wild landscapes with bandits, Gypsies and so on, and Mortimer undoubtedly saw his own life in similarly romantic terms. Here he depicts himself with a glowering expression and long windswept hair held by a turban of striped cloth, a standard signifier of a figure on the margins of society.