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William Hogarth
(1697-1764) 

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William Hogarth was a British painter and engraver, noted particularly for his observation of English manners and customs and for his satirization of the excesses of his age. He was the dominant artistic personality in England in the first half of the 18th century and the painter who did most to establish a distinctive English school of painting. 

He was born in London on November 10, 1697, the son of an impoverished schoolteacher. At the age of 17 he became apprenticed to a silver-engraver but in 1720 he left to set up an engraving shop of his own. The business was concerned with producing engravings of book illustrations. Hogarth’s earliest notable works include illustrations (1726) to "Hudibras", a poem satirizing Puritanism, by Samuel Butler. In 1720 he had enrolled at the academy of art newly founded by John Vanderbank in St Martin’s Lane, where he learnt to paint in oils. In 1724 he studied at Sir James Thornhill’s free academy in St Martin’s Lane.  

  • Umm al Qiwain 1967. Self-Portrait (1745). 

Umm al Qiwain 1967. Rococo Art. William Hogarth. Self-Portrait.

Hogarth’s remarkably exuberant satire of a marriage entered into for money, his pungent observation of upper-class life, and his mastery of complex scenes find perhaps their highest expression in his paintings of upper-class life, generally considered to be his finest works. Far from the artifice and flattery of the work of such portraitists as Gainsborough and Reynolds, these portraits have an earthy directness and truth. 

Umm Al Quiwain 1967. Rococo Art. William Hogarth. The Marriage Contract. Dubai 1975. Rococo Art. William Hogarth. The Graham Children.

Yemen Arab Republic 1969. Rococo Art. William Hogarth. The  The Shrimp Girl (also known as The Saleswoman of Crabs).

At the same time, Hogarth was setting out his theories of painting, resulting in the publication of The Analysis of Beauty in 1753, in which the author claims that the essence of beauty lies in the "line of grace", or "line of beauty": a gracefully S-shaped vertical curve, beautifully reflected in this masterly done portrait of The Shrimp Girl. 

Despite the acrimonious atmosphere in which Hogarth now found himself, his painting remained sensuous, rich, and spontaneous, as can be seen in two important late portraits, The Shrimp Girl and Hogarth’s Servants (1750-1755, Tate Gallery, London), the latter painted with tangible affection. Four years later he was appointed Sergeant Painter to George II. 

Obsessive to the last, a few months before his death he executed an engraving sardonically Tail-Piece, or The Bathos, in which he sombrely depicted the demise of his own artistic world. In a sense it was prophetic, for, as the 19th century English painter John Constable rightly remarked, "Hogarth has no school, nor has he ever been imitated with tolerable success". 

His immediate influence had been more stronglyfelt in literature than in painting, and after his death it was significantly the Romantics, many of whose ideas Hogarth had anticipated, who first recognized his greatness.

Though never neglected, Hogarth was chiefly remembered for his satiric engraings, and, as with that other lonely pioneer, the 19th century painter J.M.W. Turner, the implications of his work were better understood on the Continent than in England. 

Hogarth’s last engraving, The Bathos, intended as a farewell work, was published in 1764. He died in London and was buried in Chiswick. On his monument is an epitaph written by his friend, the actor David Garrick. 

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