This self-portrait was drawn early in his career. In 1792, Alexander accompanied an embassy to China... This portrait was drawn either on the voyage to Peking, which began in Sept. 1792, or on the return 2 years later. The visible eye underneath it suggests that the patch was added last to the drawing. Theories suggest that sailors often wore a patch to help their eyes adjust... (http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pd/w/william_alexander,_portrait.aspx)
self portraiteye patch
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