Paulson 205 iii/VI, before burnishing out of the background escutcheon and its replacement with a row of heads. The image is composed of two plates: upper plate measures 7 1/2 x 8 1/4 in.; lower plate measures 4 3/4 x 8 1/4 in. Inscribed in upper plate from top to bottom: "CHARACTER / Design'd & Engrav'd by W. Hogarth - The Bench - Publish'd as the Act directs 4. Sep. 1758 / Of the different meaning of the Words 'Character, Caracatura and Outre in Painting and Drawing". See additional documentation for inscription in the lower plate. A fine impression in fine condition, on sturdy laid sheet measuring 14 1/8 x 11 1/2 in.
An earlier painting by the artist dated c. 1757, depicts a similar scene, with some changes in the facial features of the Chief Justice, also the pen and paper have switched hands.
The figure of the Chief Justice represents Sir John Willes (1685-1761), a man "whose learning and ability were somewhat dimmed by the fame of his immorality." (Paulson, p. 239)