Art on This Day
William Hogarth (10 November 1967 – 26 October 1764) was born in London, and became one of the first British artists to be recognised abroad. Working as portraitist, printmaker, social critic and editorial cartoonist, Hogarth’s style is often described as wild or controversial, leading to coinage of the term “Hogarthian”.
Hogarth is perhaps most known for his satirical commentary on contemporary society, achieved through his series paintings of “modern moral subjects”. The first of these was A Harlot’s Progress, which tells the story of a country girl, Moll Hackabout, who takes up prostitution. This was followed by A Rake’s Progress, and both pieces were so popular that pirated copies were quickly produced and circulated. Hogarth typically worked direct on to the canvas, and only one hundred of his sketches still survive, half of which belong to the British Museum. Whilst Hogarth is most famed for his wit and satire, his career was multi-faceted as he also penned The Analysis of Beauty, in which Hogarth outlines his theories of beauty and grace for the common man. Hogarth’s concern with themes that still are prevalent today, like that of social integration, political corruption and patriotism amongst others makes him a truly modern artist.
Prints by Hogarth can be found in most of the leading museums in Britain, and have been the subject of major exhibitions at Tate Britain, London. Hogarth’s influence is widespread; his painting Marriage A-la-Mode was used as a starting point for artist Paula Rego’s work The Betrothal. Hogarth’s former country house in Chiswick, West London is open to visitors as a museum free of charge. In 2014 the William Hogarth Trust commissioned an exhibition at the museum to mark the 250th anniversary of Hogarth’s death.
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