Social Profit

This portrait by England’s great eighteenth century character painter William Hogarth (1697-1764) celebrates the public life of the industrious and liberal middle classes of Georgian England, so as such it is a rare glimpse. The sitter Captain Coram (1668 – 1751) amassed a great fortune in trade as a shipbuilder with business operations in America as well as England. Appalled by the poverty in the streets of London Captain Coram gathered many artists and artisan friends around him to help. He endowed an orphanage, the London Foundling Hospital, which is still contributing to the community in England to this day offering better chances for children. His philanthropy established what is reputed to be the world’s first incorporated charity. It was all about Social Profit for the community. This image of the Captain is wonderfully painted. He has all the swagger of a bourgeoisie merchant, not a nobleman; it commemorates bourgeoisie virtues and importantly, stresses the importance of his humanity.

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