William Hogarth (1697 – 1764) – Painter and engraver of the eighteenth century London
Mediums: Oil, Prints, Wood, Other
Subjects: Figure, Scenery
Art Movement: Rococo
Hometown: London, United Kingdom
Having an artistic fiber, William Hogarth, well born son of a schoolteacher turned into a print manager, is, first, apprentice silver engraving. In 1725, he entered in the James Thornhill academy which is said that he would have kidnapped the daughter to marry her in 1729. We should not rely on his serious “look”…. Indeed, William Hogarth is rather mischievous and will probably become the painter the most “biting, satirical and popular in England during the eighteenth century.” Hogarth wanting to make art accessible to all, in this way, he founded the first public exhibition venues and he is in the origin of the first law (1735) on the protection of copyright, called “law Hogarth”. His paintings have been disseminated as “engraving” throughout Europe.
One of his early paintings “After” shown a couple a little denuded and we can guess that it is before and after having made love, which is quite exceptional for this period …
In the series “Four Times of the Day” William Hogarth reveals his talent as a popular painter and shows London like a place of debauchery, alcohol and games ….
In the painting the “Banquet”, Hogarth depicts the opulence in all its forms. Again we can see the accuracy of the master, the finish of the painting is deeply exceptional !
Although William Hogarth is a “urban satire”, his paintings are extremely precise whatever it is, a painting showing the social decay of the period or some portraits.
Indeed, his portraits are colored with colors rather warm such as yellow, red, ocher, and he used rather brown, blue, black for shadows. The portraits are accurate, clean, detailed and refined. Hogarth “photographs” almost his models. His portraits are straightforward, simple, unlike his “urban” paintings which are a little rococo and crowded but still detailed. He shows a great respect for his models, and I guess a deep respect and admiration for them!
A portrait is however a little different than the rule : “The shrimp Girl – 1740”…
Indeed, his brushstrokes are much heavier, more dispersed and seem to have no discipline. There is a freedom, an impressive of naivety in this painting. Pure happiness made with big brushstrokes!
Hogarth painted in order that these paintings are then engraved to be printed. This was possible thanks to the recent introduction of new methods of printing and engraving known during the 18th century.
We must realize what this work of engraving represented then. Indeed, in order to engrave, the design should be first removed or incised into the metal with a chisel. It was then covered with ink to allowed to print the drawing on separate sheet.
It is said that Hogarth had trained himself to observe a scene until this one was engraved in his visual memory to be then able of not doing preliminary studies and to directly begin his work on a paper or on a canvas.
These paintings are very beautiful, perfect, the light / shadow are subtly worked. We can find regularity, variety and intricacy in his paintings. These are consistent with the period in question. I’m attracted to the accuracy of the details and features of his paintings. The fact that Hogarth did no preliminary studies also pleases me as it shows a freedom going against the standard, against the conformity…