William Hogarth (1697-1764) is an artist whose popularity has never waned since his own day. He has been characterized variously as a witty satirist, stern moralist, aggressive self-promoter, detached observer, and man of the people. His celebrated patriotism and Britishness were shaped, paradoxically, by the remarkably cosmopolitan character of the artistic environment in which he lived. His distinctive urban and political themes reflect the concerns of an increasingly metropolitan society. Hogarth’s contribution to the development of modern British art was unique and his influence has been enormous, his multi-faceted output ranging from elegant conversation pieces to salacious brothel scenes. His reputation has been based almost entirely on his numerous prints and engraved works, including famous series such as A Rake’s Progress, A Harlot’s Progress, Marriage A-la-Mode, Industry and Idleness, Gin Lane, Beer Street and the Four Stages of Cruelty. This attractive book reproduces a selection from these and other representative prints, introduced by a brief overview of the artist and his times.
12th January 2015