The subject of this Plate is taken at the point of time when the Child's Mother, whom the Princess considers as merely its Nurse, has brought him to his Patroness, and is receiving from the Treasurer the wages of her service. The little Foundling naturally clings to his Nurse, though invited to leave her by the Daughter of a Monarch; and the eyes of an Attendant and a whispering Ethiopian convey an oblique suspicion that the Child has a nearer affinity to their Mistress than she chooses to acknowledge.
On the merits of the original Painting (which was presented by Hogarth to the Foundling Hospital) two excellent Critics have recorded very opposite opinions.
Mr. John Ireland, who well understood the subject on which he treats, but had weighty reasons for bestowing praise on Hogarth rather than censure, observes that, "considered as a whole, this Picture has a more historic air than we often find in the Works of Hogarth. The Royal Egyptian is graceful, and in some degree elevated. The Treasurer is marked with austere dignity, and the Jewess and Child with Nature. The scene is superb, and the distant prospect of Pyramids, &c. highly picturesque and appropriate to the country. To exhibit this scene, the Artist has placed the groups at such a distance as to crowd the corners, and leave the centre unoccupied. As the Greeks are said to have received the rudiments of Art from Egypt, the Line of Beauty on the base of a pillar is properly introduced. A crocodile creeping from under the stately chair, may be intended to mark the neighbourhood of the Nile, but is a poor and forced conceit."
Mr. Steevens, whose discriminating taste is indisputable, but who scrutinized the Works of Hogarth with an asperity somewhat too severe, says, "The Daughter of the Egyptian Monarch appears to more advantage in the Print than on the canvass; and the colouring is beneath criticism. I have been told that the head of Pharaoh's daughter was copied from one Seaton. Hogarth could not, like Guido, draw a Venus from a common Porter."