Nathaniel Hone established a successful career as a fashionable portrait and subject painter in London. This beautifully executed satirical painting (the full title of which is 'The Pictorial Conjuror, Displaying the Whole Art of Optical Deception') caused an outcry when it was submitted by the artist for exhibition at the Royal Academy, London, in 1775. The reason given was that included in the picture was a nude caricature of the Swiss painter Angelica Kauffman. This was subsequently painted over, but the original figure can still be seen in a sketch in Tate Britain. The true cause of offence, however, was that the picture was seen as an attack on Kauffman's friend Joshua Reynolds, President of the Royal Academy. His practice of borrowing poses from Old Master paintings to ennoble his portraits was seen by Hone as plagiarism.
Keywords: Nathaniel Hone The Conjurer, painting, oil on canvas, National Gallery of Ireland, Nathaniel Hone the Elder