"This monkey, Jack, was owned by Sir William Hamilton, British ambassador to Naples in the 18th century," Mr. Ford said, citing as his source Sir William’s letters, which described Jack grabbing a boy’s genitals and enjoying enemas. "I started thinking: ‘This is debauched. I’ve got to paint him.’ So, here he is, a decadent Hogarthian rake on his deathbed, with Vesuvius erupting in the background, which was actually happening as he was dying.
"Hamilton said Jack was a black monkey with a beige beard from the Malabar Coast in southwestern India. I have lots of natural history books here and I really got lucky. I found him in ‘The Book of Indian Animals,’ and he’s my model for Jack, who looks like he’s had his hair done, so extravagant, like Liberace if he was a monkey."
Excerpt from NY Times Article, “America the Beautifully Absurd" by Annette Grant, 2005