Thomas Gainsborough (christened 14 May 1727 – died 2 August 1788) was one
of the most famous portrait and landscape painters of 18th century
Britain.Thomas Gainsborough (christened 14 May 1727 – died 2 August 1788) was
one of the most famous portrait and landscape painters of 18th century Britain.
William Hogarth (November 10, 1697 – October 26, 1764) was a major
English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic and editorial
cartoonist who has been credited with pioneering western sequential art. His
work ranged from excellent realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of
pictures called “modern moral subjects”. Much of his work, though at times
vicious, poked fun at contemporary politics and customs. Illustrations in such
style are often referred to as Hogarthian.
William and Jane Hogarth's tomb
The son of a poor school teacher and textbook writer, William Hogarth was
born at Bartholomew Close in London on November 10, 1697. In his youth he was
apprenticed to the engraver Ellis Gamble in Leicester Fields, where he learned
to engrave trade cards and similar products. Young William also took a lively
interest in the street life of the metropolis and the London fairs, and amused
himself by sketching the characters he saw. Around the same time, his father,
who had opened an unsuccessful Latin-speaking coffee house at St John's Gate,
was imprisoned for debt in Fleet Prison for five years. Hogarth never talked
about the fact. By April 1720 he was an engraver in his own right, at first
engraving coats of arms, shop bills, and designing plates for booksellers.
In 1727, he was hired by Joshua Morris, a tapestry worker, to prepare a design
for the Element of Earth. Morris, however, heard that he was "an engraver, and
no painter", and consequently declined the work when completed. Hogarth
accordingly sued him for the money in the Westminster Court, where the case was
decided in his favour on May 28, 1728.
On March 23, 1729 he was married to Jane Thornhill, daughter of artist Sir James
In 1757 he was appointed Serjeant Painter to the King.
Hogarth died in London on October 26, 1764 and was buried at St. Nicholas's
Churchyard, Chiswick Mall, Chiswick, London. His friend the actor David Garrick
wrote the inscription on his tombstone.
Early satirical works included an Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scheme
(c.1721), about the disastrous stock market crash of 1720 known as the South Sea
Bubble, in which many English people lost a great deal of money. In the bottom
left corner, he shows 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" and this
shows the stupidity of people in following the crowd in buying stock in The
South Sea Company, which spent more time issuing stock than anything else. The
people are scattered around the picture with a real sense of disorder, which
represented the confusion. The progress of the well dressed people towards the
ride in the middle shows how foolish some people could be, which is not entirely
their own fault.
Other early works include The Lottery (1724); The Mystery of Masonry brought to
Light by the Gormogons (1724); A Just View of the British Stage (1724); some
book illustrations; and the small print, Masquerades and Operas (1724). The
latter is a satire on contemporary follies, such as the masquerades of the Swiss
impresario John James Heidegger, the popular Italian opera singers, John Rich's
pantomimes at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and last not least, the exaggerated
popularity of Lord Burlington's protégé, the architect and painter William Kent.
He continued that theme in 1727, with the Large Masquerade Ticket. In 1726
Hogarth prepared twelve large engravings for Samuel Butler's Hudibras. These he
himself valued highly, and are among his best book illustrations.
In the following years he turned his attention to the production of small
"conversation pieces" (i.e., groups in oil of full-length portraits from 12 to
15 in. high). Among his efforts in oil between 1728 and 1732 were The Fountaine
Family (c.1730), The Assembly at Wanstead House, The House of Commons examining
Bambridge, and several pictures of the chief actors in John Gay's popular The
One of his masterpieces of this period is the depiction of an amateur
performance of John Dryden's The Indian Emperor, or The Conquest of Mexico
(1732–1735) at the home of John Conduitt, master of the mint, in St George's
Street, Hanover Square.
Hogarth's other works in the 1730s include A Midnight Modern Conversation
(1733), Southwark Fair (1733), The Sleeping Congregation (1736), Before and
After (1736), Scholars at a Lecture (1736), The Company of Undertakers
(Consultation of Quacks) (1736), The Distrest Poet (1736), The Four Times of the
Day (1738), and Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn (1738). He may also have
printed Burlington Gate (1731), evoked by Alexander Pope's Epistle to Lord
Burlington, and defending Lord Chandos, who is therein satirized. This print
gave great offence, and was suppressed (some modern authorities, however, no
longer attribute this to Hogarth).
Harlot's and Rake's Progresses
A Rake's Progress, Plate 8, 1735
In 1731, he completed the earliest of the series of moral works which first
gave him recognition as a great and original genius. This was A Harlot's
Progress, first as paintings, (now lost), and then published as engravings. In
its six scenes, the miserable fate 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. The series was an
immediate success, and was followed in 1735 by the sequel A Rake's Progress
showing in eight pictures the reckless life of Tom Rakewell, the son of a rich
merchant, who wastes all his money on luxurious living, whoring, and gambling,
and ultimately finishes his life in Bedlam. The original paintings of A Harlot's
Progress were destroyed in the fire at Fonthill Abbey in 1755; A Rake's Progress
is displayed in the gallery room at Sir John Soane's Museum, London.
Marriage à-la-mode, Shortly After the Marriage (scene two
In 1743–1745 Hogarth painted the six pictures of Marriage à-la-mode (National
Gallery, London), a pointed skewering of upper class 18th century society. This
moralistic warning shows the miserable tragedy of an ill-considered marriage for
money. This is regarded by many as his finest project, certainly the best
example of his serially-planned story cycles.
Marital ethics were the topic of much debate in 18th century Britain. Frequent
marriages of convenience and their attendant unhappiness came in for particular
criticism, with a variety of authors taking the view that love was a much
sounder basis for marriage. Hogarth here painted a satire – a genre that by
definition has a moral point to convey – of a conventional marriage within the
English upper class. All the paintings were engraved and the series achieved
wide circulation in print form. The series, which are set in a Classical
interior, shows 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.
Industry and Idleness
In the twelve prints of Industry and Idleness (1747) Hogarth shows the
progression in the lives of two apprentices, one who is dedicated and hard
working, the other idle which leads to crime and his execution. This shows the
work ethic of Protestant England, where those who work hard get rewarded, such
as the industrious apprentice who becomes Sheriff (plate 8), Alderman (plate
10), and finally the Lord Mayor of London in the last plate in the series. The
idle apprentice, who begins with being "at play in the church yard" (plate 3),
holes up "in a Garrett with a Common Prostitute" after turning highwayman (plate
7) and "executed at Tyburn" (plate 11). The idle apprentice is sent to the
gallows by the industrious apprentice himself.
Beer Street and Gin Lane
Later important prints include his pictorial warning of the unpleasant
consequences of alcoholism in Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751) Hogarth engraved
Beer Street to show 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 woman at the front of Gin Lane who lets her baby fall to its
death, echoes the tale of Judith Dufour who strangled her baby so she could sell
its clothes for gin money. The prints were published in support of what would
become the Gin Act 1751.
Hogarth's friend, the magistrate Henry Fielding, may have enlisted Hogarth to
help with propaganda for a Gin Act: Beer Street and Gin Lane were issued shortly
after his work An Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers, and
Related Writings and addressed the same issues.
The Four Stages of Cruelty
Other prints were his outcry against inhumanity in The Four Stages of
Cruelty (1751); a series which Hogarth intended to show some of the terrible
habits of criminals. In the first picture there are scenes of torture of dogs,
cats and other animals. In the second it shows one of the characters from the
first painting, Tom Nero, has now become a coach driver, and his cruelty to his
horse caused it to break its leg. In the third painting Tom is shown as a
murderer, with the woman he killed lying on the ground, while in the fourth,
titled Reward of Cruelty, the murderer is shown being dissected by scientists
after his execution. Hogarth is thus using the series to say what will happen to
people who carry on in this manner. This shows what crimes people were concerned
with in this time, the method of execution, and the dissection reflects upon the
1752 Act of Parliament which had just being passed allowing for the dissection
of executed criminals who had been convicted for murder. It shows his reaction
against the cruel treatment of animals which he saw around him, that he wished
could be stopped.
Hogarth was also a popular portrait painter. In 1746 he painted actor David
Garrick as Richard III, for which he was paid £200, “which was more,” he wrote,
“than any English artist ever received for a single portrait.” In the same year
a sketch of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, afterwards beheaded on Tower Hill,
had an exceptional success. Hogarth's truthful, vivid full-length portrait of
his friend, the philanthropic Captain Coram (1740; formerly Thomas Coram
Foundation for Children, now Foundling Museum), and his unfinished oil sketch of
The Shrimp Girl (National Gallery, London) may be called masterpieces of British
During a long period of his life, Hogarth tried to achieve the status of
history painter, but had no great success in this field.
Examples of his history pictures are The Pool of Bethesda and The Good
Samaritan, executed in 1736–1737 for St Bartholomew's Hospital; Moses brought
before Pharaoh's Daughter, painted for the Foundling Hospital (1747, formerly at
the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, now in the Foundling Museum); Paul
before Felix (1748) at Lincoln's Inn; and his altarpiece for St. Mary Redcliffe,
The Gate of Calais
The Gate of Calais (1748; now in Tate Britain) was produced soon after his
return from a visit to France. Horace Walpole wrote that Hogarth had run a great
risk to go there since the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle,he went to France, and was
so imprudent as to be taking a sketch of the drawbridge at Calais. He was seized
and carried to the governor, where he was forced to prove his vocation by
producing several caricatures of the French; particularly a scene of the shore,
with an immense piece of beef landing for the lion d'argent, the English inn at
Calais, and several hungry friars following it. They were much diverted with his
drawings, and dismissed him.
Back home, he immediately executed a painting of the subject in which he
unkindly represented his enemies, the Frenchmen, as cringing, emaciated and
superstitious people, while an enormous sirloin of beef arrives, destined for
the English inn as a symbol of British prosperity and superiority. He claimed to
have painted himself into the picture in the corner, with the solder running him
Other later works
March of the Guards to Finchley (1750), a satirical depiction of
troops mustered to defend London from the 1745
Notable Hogarth engravings in the 1740s includeThe Enraged Musician (1741),
the six prints of Marriage à-la-mode (1745; executed by French artists under
Hogarth's inspection), and The Stage Coach or The Country Inn Yard (1747).
In 1745 Hogarth painted a self-portrait with his pug dog (now also in Tate
Britain), which shows him as a learned artist supported by volumes of
Shakespeare, Milton and Swift. In 1749, he represented the somewhat disorderly
English troops on their March of the Guards to Finchley (formerly Thomas Coram
Foundation for Children, now Foundling Museum).
Others were his ingenious Satire on False Perspective (1753); his satire on
canvassing in his Election series (1755–1758; now in Sir John Soane's Museum);
his ridicule of the English passion for cockfighting in The Cockpit (1759); his
attack on Methodism in Credulity, Superstition, and Fanaticism (1762); his
political anti-war satire in The Times, plate I (1762); and his pessimistic view
of all things in Tailpiece, or The Bathos (1764).
Hogarth also wrote and published his ideas of artistic design in his book The
Analysis of Beauty (1753). In it, he professes to define the principles of
beauty and grace which he, a real child of Rococo, saw realized in serpentine
lines (the Line of Beauty).
Painter and engraver of modern moral subjects
Hogarth lived in an age when artwork became increasingly commercialized and
viewed in shop windows, taverns and public buildings and sold in printshops. Old
hierarchies broke down, and new forms began to flourish: the ballad opera, the
bourgeois tragedy, and especially, a new form of fiction called the novel with
which authors such as Henry Fielding had great success. Therefore, by that time,
Hogarth hit on a new idea: "painting and engraving modern moral subjects ... to
treat my subjects as a dramatic writer; my picture was my stage", as he himself
remarked in his manuscript notes.
He drew from the highly moralizing Protestant tradition of Dutch genre painting,
and the very vigorous satirical traditions of the English broadsheet and other
types of popular print. In England the fine arts had little comedy in them
before Hogarth. His prints were expensive, and remained so until early
nineteenth-century reprints brought them to a wider audience.
Parodic borrowings from the Old Masters
When analyzing the work of the artist as a whole, Ronald Paulson, the modern
authority on Hogarth, sees an accomplished parodist at work, and a subversive.
He says, "In A Harlot's Progress, every single plate but one is based on Dürer's
images of the story of the Virgin and the story of the Passion." In other works,
he parodies Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. According to Paulson, Hogarth is
subverting the religious establishment and the orthodox belief in an immanent
God who intervenes in the lives of people and produces miracles. Indeed, Hogarth
was a Deist, a believer in a God who created the universe but takes no direct
hand in the lives of his creations. Thus, as a "comic history painter", he often
poked fun at the old-fashioned, "beaten" subjects of religious art in his
paintings and prints. Hogarth also rejected Lord Shaftesbury's then current
ideal of the classical Greek male in favor of the living, breathing female. He
said, "Who but a bigot, even to the antiques, will say that he has not seen
faces and necks, hands and arms in living women, that even the Grecian Venus
doth but coarsely imitate."
Influence and Reputation
His satirical engravings are often considered an important ancestor of the
Hogarth's work were a direct influence on John Collier, who was known as the
Hogarth's paintings and prints have provided the subject matter for several
other works. For example, Igor Stravinsky's opera The Rake's Progress, with
libretto by W. H. Auden, was inspired by Hogarth's series of paintings of that
title. Russell Banks's short story, "Indisposed," is a fictional account of
Hogarth's infidelity as told from the viewpoint of his long-suffering wife,
Hogarth's House in Chiswick, West London, is now a museum (free entry); it abuts
one of London's best known road junctions – the Hogarth Roundabout.
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