William Hogarth

729px-William_Hogarth_019English painter,printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist William Hogarth was born 10 November 1697. He has been credited with pioneering western sequential art. His work ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called “modern moral subjects”. Knowledge of his work is so pervasive that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as “Hogarthian” He first worked as an engraver in 1720, engraving coats of arms, shop bills, and designing plates for booksellers. ThenIn 1727, he was hired by Joshua Morris, a tapestry worker, to prepare a design for the Element of Earth. In 1757 he was appointed Serjeant Painter to the King. Early satirical works included an Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scheme, about the disastrous stock market crash known as the South Sea Bubble, in which many English people lost a great deal of money. This features Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish figures gambling, while in the middle there is a huge machine, like a merry-go-round, which people are boarding. At the top is a goat, written below which is “Who’l Ride”. Other early works include The Lottery ; The Mystery of Masonry brought to Light by the Gormogons ; A Just View of the British Stage ; some book illustrations; and the small print, Masquerades and Operas. He continued this theme in 1727, with the Large Masquerade Ticket.

In 1726 Hogarth prepared twelve large engravings for Samuel Butler’s Hudibras including The Assembly at Wanstead House. he then turned his attention to the production of small “conversation pieces” . Among his paintings were The Fountaine Family (c.1730), The Assembly at Wanstead House, The House of Commons examining Bambridge, and several pictures of The Beggar’s Opera. Hogarth’s depiction of John Dryden’s The Indian Emperor, or The Conquest of Mexico at the home of John Conduitt, master of the mint, in St George’s Street, Hanover Square, A Midnight Modern Conversation, Southwark Fair , The Sleeping Congregation Before andAfter, Scholars at a Lecture’ The Company of Undertakers (Consultation of Quacks), The Distrest Poet (1, The Four Times of the Day, and Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn are also Masterpeices.

In 1731, Hogarth completed the earliest of the series of moral works A Harlot’s Progress, which features six scenes, featuring the miserable downfall of a country girl who began a prostitution career in town is traced out remorselessly from its starting point, the meeting of a bawd, to its shameful and degraded end, the whore’s death of venereal disease and the following merciless funeral ceremony. This was followed in 1735 by the sequel A Rake’s Progress which portrays the reckless life of Tom Rakewell, the son of a rich merchant, who starts off promisingly, but wastes all his money on luxurious living, whoring, and gambling, and ultimately finishes his life in Bedlam.

In 1743–1745, Hogarth painted the six pictures of Marriage à-la-mode, a moralistic satire of upper-class 18th-century society which shows the miserable tragedy of an ill-considered marriage for money rather than love. They are set in a Classical interior, and show the story of the fashionable marriage of the son of bankrupt Earl Squanderfield to the daughter of a wealthy but miserly city merchant, starting with the signing of a marriage contract at the Earl’s mansion and ending with the murder of the son by his wife’s lover and the suicide of the daughter after her lover is hanged at Tyburn for murdering her husband.

In the twelve prints of Industry and Idleness (1747) Hogarth shows the progression in the lives of two apprentices, one of whom is dedicated and hard working, the other idle. This shows that those who work hard such as the industrious apprentice get rewarded, and he becomes Sheriff, Alderman, and finally the Lord Mayor of London. Whilst idle apprentice, begins with being “at play in the churchyard”, holes up “in a Garrett with a Common Prostitute” after turning highwayman) and is eventually “executed at Tyburn” after being sent to the gallows by the industrious apprentice himself.

Later important prints include his pictorial warning of the unpleasant consequences of alcoholism in Beer Street and Gin Lane, which shows a happy city drinking the ‘good’ beverage of English beer, versus Gin Lane which showed the effects of drinking gin which, as a harder liquor, caused more problems for society. People are shown as healthy, happy and prosperous in Beer Street, while in Gin Lane they are scrawny, lazy and careless. The prints were published in support of what would become theGin Act 1751.

Another print The Four Stages of Cruelty, is a cautionary print in which Hogarth depicts what happens to people who are cruel to animals and people. It features the downfall of Tom Nero, a coach driver whose cruelty to his horse causes it to break its leg. Tom is then depicted murdering a woman, until in the last print titled Reward of Cruelty, Tom gets his comeuppance and is executed for his crimes and is shown being dissected by scientists after his execution. The method of execution, and the dissection, reflect the 1752 Act of Parliament. Other notable prints include The Pool of Bethesda and The Good Samaritan, Moses brought before Pharaoh’s Daughter, Paul before Felix, his altarpiece for St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol and The Gate of Calais. Hogarth sadly died in London on 26 October 1764 and was buried at St. Nicholas’s Churchyard, Chiswick Mall, Chiswick, London.

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