Oil on canvas, rectangular, in a gilt and lacquer frame, 7.4cm by 6.5cm. Circa 1740.
Lavinia Fenton, probably the illegitimate daughter of a naval lieutenant named Beswick, took the name of Fenton from her mother’s husband, a coffee house owner.
She eventually became an actress and was painted by Hogarth in one of her most famous roles, as Polly Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera, whilst her lover, and future husband, the 3rd Duke of Bolton, sat in a box nearby.
This fragment of a painting almost certainly portrays the actress in one of her roles.
William Hogarth was initially an engraver. He became a print maker and a fine portrait painter, but he is perhaps best known for his works of pictorial satire, his biting social commentary and criticism in his moral works.