William Hogarth Biography | Oil Paintings
11-10-1697 London, ENG – 10-26-1764 London, ENGBack to Artist IndexView Artists Paintings
William Hogarth became the greatest English satirical artist of his generation. He was apprenticed to a silver-plate engraver, Ellis Gamble, and established his own business in 1720. seeking to diversify into the more lucrative business of copper plate engraving, however, he took lessons in draftsmanship under Sir James Thornhill.
William Hogarth early work consisted mainly of ornamental bill heads and business cards, but by 1724 he was designing plates for booksellers and from this, he progressed to individual prints, before turning to portrait painting by 1730. Within a few years, he had begun to concentrate on the great satirical works on which his reputation now rests. His canvases are absolutely crammed with figures and minute detail, sub plots and side issues to the main theme.
"Castigat Ridendo Mores": Social Satire is Born.
During the whole of the seventeenth century, British painters were not particularly outstanding. All pictorial works of any importance, including portraits and royal commissions, were assigned to foreign artists, who spent various periods of time in England. At the beginning of the eighteenth century, however, William Hogarth, the first unquestionably original English painter appeared on the scene. In addition to being a pleasant portraitist who was very much in demand, Hogarth invented a new theme; social satire. Without hiding his didactic purpose and his amused yet bitterly provoking attitude, Hogarth harshly criticizes the customs of all the social classes including ruined aristocrats, clumsy bourgeois social climbers seeking to enter high society, greedy clerics, slovenly soldiers, and the ragged populace. His scenes are teeming with people captured in poses and with expressions that verge on caricature, and so crammed with descriptive detail that even Hogarth himself at times felt the need to add explanatory captions.
Marriage for Money Finally Brought to Life by Hogarth.
The series Marriage a la Mode, comprising six scenes of his favorite theme of social climbing, is Hogarth's most mature work. This moralistic warning shows the miserable tragedy of an ill-considered marriage for money. Pictures of domestic interiors became so fashionable in English painting that the independent genre of the “conversation piece” began to develop as an alternative to the portrait.
Hogarth The Rake's Progress.
This harsh parable of the deprivation of a social climber has hung in Soane's Museum in London since 1802. Sir John Soane purchased these eight canvases from a severe colonel for the price of 508 pounds and 10 shillings, almost one hundred pounds less than the regretful gentleman had paid himself. Their first owner was Lord Beckford, the mayor of London, who had bought the canvases from Hogarth. It is very hard to find parallel to Hogarth's biting ironic. And didactic art in the “continental “art of the same period. Hogarth was a great theater lover and friend to many actors and directors at the time. He seems to have used the stage experience for his work, creating a kind of stage play that unfolds in a sequence of scenes. He gives the main character a recognizable name and personality. Igor Stravinsky “translated” this theatrical series of paintings into the libretto for the opera of the same name The Rakes Progress.
The first painting The Rakes Progress The Heir introduces the young Tom Rakewell, whose miserly father died. The smallest details of the room reflect the deceased stinginess. While a zealous tailor is taking some measurements an accountant filches some coins, Sarah Young, who is pregnant with Tom's child, appears in the doorway win tears with her mother. Tom has promised to marry Sarah, but now he offers her a handful of coins as compensation.
The Rakes Progress The Levée, (the rising) in the second painting, Tom is swept up in a whirlwind of activity. Surrounded by fencing experts, a boxer, a dancing master, a jockey. Tom in the foreground still in his nightcap holding a letter of introduction from a threatening looking man offering his services as a bodyguard. The comic effect of this scene is striking though bitter, the rake's wealth will soon be dissipated.
The Rakes Progress The Orgy, is the third painting in the series. The Rake is sprawled on a chair after a brawl and the two prostitutes attending to him do not pass up the chance to steal his watch. The place is squalid, a couple is flirting, other loose women are drinking, spitting and chatting, one of them is undressing, while a pregnant girl is singing near the door.
The Rakes Progress The Arrest, St. James place which is still today a royal residence, appears in the background and the rake is heading there for the queens birthday audience. Two magistrates discover Tom by opening the sedan chair and arrest him for insolvency. Sarah Young tries to come to his aid in vain.
The Rakes Progress The Marriage, in the fifth scene, being in need of money Tom enters into a marriage of convenience. The rake slips a ring on the finger of an old cross-eyed woman as he eyes the pretty maid. While two little dogs imitate the scene (one is Trump, Hogarth's pug), in the background Sarah Young and her mother try to interrupt the ceremony but are pushed back by a guard.
The Rakes Progress The Gaming House, contains striking figures their features corrupted by vice. Hardly anyone is aware of the imminent catastrophe, smoke from the fire that will burn the place to the ground can be seen coming from the back of the room.
The Rakes Progress The Prison, Tom is in jail for gambling debts, he looks terrified and his eyes are bulging. The old woman who has become his wife is howling in his ear, Sarah Young faints at the sight of her former seducer.
In the last scene, The Rakes Progress The Madhouse, Tom is rolling on the ground almost naked. Two nurses are tying his wrist and ankles. The weeping Sarah Young has become the tragic heroine of the story. Two women are visiting the mad people as an amusing pastime, their grotesque smiles are the most inhumane element in the whole series of paintings.
The Pug named Trump.
Following a visit to Paris in 1743 he produced several prints of low life and moral subjects. He also executed a number of portraits and oils of genre subjects. One of which, The Shrimp Girl, is derived from his study of seventeenth-century Dutch painting and is characterized by fresh, rapid, free brushstrokes, which are reminiscent of Frans Hals, others are complex statements of his poetics, many of his works demand a detailed reading of the cleverly arranged emblematic objects. His Self-Portrait with Pug is a complex statement of Hogarth's poetics. Many of his works demand a detailed reading of the cleverly arranged emblematic objects. The portrait of the artist is placed on a pile of books by Shakespeare, Milton, and Swift. The Pug named Trump (no joke) symbolizes his loyalty to nature and the painters' palette is engraved with the words “The Line of Beauty and Grace”, which according to Hogarth is the basis of beauty and harmony in painting.Hogarth's influence lives on today as artists continue to draw inspiration from his work.
Art Movement History: Rococo.
Artists Influencing William Hogarth: Ellis Gamble, John Collier, James Thornhill.
He Traveled To France.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.