Augustus Leopold Egg

May 2, 1816 – March 26, 1863

Augustus Leopold Egg RA was a Victorian artist best known for his modern triptych Past and Present (1858), which depicts the breakup of a middle-class Victorian family.

Egg was born to Joseph and Ann Egg, and baptised in St James's Church, Piccadilly, on 30 May 1816. He had an elder brother, George Hine Egg.

His father Joseph Egg was a wealthy gunsmith from the distinguished gun making family, who immigrated to London from Huningue, Alsace. Egg was educated in the schools of the Royal Academy, beginning in 1836. Egg was a member of The Clique, a group of artists founded by Richard Dadd and others in the late 1830s (c. 1837). Egg sought to combine popularity with moral and social activism, in line with the literary work of his friend Charles Dickens. With Dickens he set up the "Guild of Literature and Art", a philanthropic organisation intended to provide welfare payments to struggling artists and writers. He acted the lead role in "Not So Bad As We Seem," a play written by Edward Bulwer-Lytton to raise funds for the organisation. His self-portrait in the role is in Hospitalfield House in Arbroath.

Egg's early paintings were generally illustrations of literary subjects. Like other members of The Clique, he saw himself as a follower of Hogarth. His interest in Hogarthian moral themes is evidenced in his paired paintings The Life and Death of Buckingham, depicting the dissolute life and sordid death of the Restoration rake. Yet his paintings often took a humorous look at their subjects, as in his Queen Elizabeth Discovers she is no longer Young (1848).