Burlesque on Kent's Altarpiece at St. Clement Danes

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Burlesque on Kent's Altarpiece at St. Clement Danes
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William Hogarth

Burlesque on Kent’s Altarpiece at St. Clement Danes.

London, Baldwin Craddock & Joy 1822

Copper engraving,



William Kent had painted at altarpiece for St. Clement Danes’ church, depicting a celestial choir with five singing angels, a crowd of attendant cherubs, and the Holy Spirit in the shape of a Dove. The parishioners had commissioned the piece, because they were impressed by Kent’s Court connections, however, they were greatly disappointed when the painting was unveiled, perhaps seeing a likeness in one of the angels to Priness Clementina Sobieski, wife of the Old Pretender, but more probably because Kent was, at times, a spectacularly bad painter. The congregation petitioned the Bishop of London, Edmund Gibson, to remove it; and it was duly removed to the vestry during September 1725, although it was borrowed from time to time by the Crown & Anchor Tavern for its Music Room. In a numbered, satirical key beneath the design, Hogarth highlights Kent’s appallingly bad draughtsmanship and his out of proportion figures. The painting was destroyed by bombing in 1940.