Artists - ArtWorks
William Hogarth (1697-1764) was English painter, printmaker, satirist and cartoonist - a painter of portraits and moral stories.
Born 10 November 1697 London
1720 became an engraver
1727 hired by Joshua Morris, a tapestry worker, to prepare a design for the Element of Earth.
1729 married the daughter of Sir James Thornhill, an English painter in the Italian Baroque tradition
1730 set up as a portrait painter
1735 ran an academy in St. Martin’s Lane, London
1757 appointed Serjent Painter to the King
Died 26 October 1764
Hogarth lived in an age when artwork was becoming increasingly accessible, viewed in shop windows, taverns and public buildings and sold in print shops.. 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". And so he began a series of ‘story’ pictures that were to epitomise, observe and criticise the society of the day, but still have resonance for the modern viewer.
In his youth he was apprenticed to the engraver Ellis Gamble in Leicester Fields, where he learned to engrave trade cards and similar products. He 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.
By 1720 Hogarth was established as an independent engraver on copper of billheads and book illustrations.
In his spare time he studied painting, first at the St. Martin’s Lane Academy and later under Sir James Thornhill.
He started to make his name with small conversation pieces and portraits.
Unlike most other English painters of his day Hogarth chose subject matter that stimulated his interest rather than simply working to commission. In 1730 he invented and popularised the use of a sequence of anecdotal pictures similar to representations on the stage, to satirize social abuses and point a moral.
Hogarth made his art a vehicle of his moral fervour and in this he shows an originality and storyteller’s skill that is perhaps uniquely English. His use of narrative and critical observation can be seen to relate back to the Bayeux Tapestry, Matthew Paris, the Luttrell Psalter and William Caxton..
Hogarth’s etchings and paintings each portray the punishment of vice, often in a somewhat lurid melodrama. As he stated, “I have endeavoured to treat my subjects as a dramatic writer, my picture is my stage and men and women my players.”
Other important English painters of this century were the portrait rivals Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough.
Hogarth also anticipates, and has been a great influence on, several contemporary artists like David Hockney, Paula Rega and Yinka Shonibare who have continued his satirical themes and critical view of current society.
Hogarth drew from the highly moralizing Protestant tradition of 17th century Dutch genre painting. His move from Roccoco portraiture to personal insights into social conditions is echoed in the work of Franceso Goya in Spain a few years later. His satirical eye undoubtedly helped the development of the political cartoon and caricature that began to appear toward the end of the 18th century in Britain and France.
Hogarth’s early engraving work was very much in the Rococo tradition of his teachers, but over the years his portraits developed a warmth and freshness to rival Gainsborough and Reynolds.
He also developed the unique satirical style in his elegant conversation pieces and bawdy low-life scenes.
Hogarth was the most important British artist of his generation. He liberated British art with his original paintings and engravings. He also promoted an academy (independent of the one at which he had studied) and this became the main forerunner of the Royal Academy.
Hogarth, William (1697–1764),David Bindman, (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004)
William Hogarth, Matthew Craske ((British Artists Series 2001)
Art in Europe, 1700-1830: A History of the Visual Arts in an Era of Unprecedented Urban Economic Growth, by Matthew Craske (Oxford History of Art)
Comments about this Artist/ArtWork
Michelangelo - Copyright 2008 - This project has been funded with support from the European Commission