William Hogarth

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William Hogarth
BirthplaceLondon, England
Painter, engraver, satirist

Hogarth, William,

1697–1764, English painter, satirist, engraver, and art theorist, b. London. At the age of 15 he was apprenticed to a silver-plate engraver. He soon made engravings on copper for bookplates and illustrations—notably those for Butler's Hudibras (1726). He studied drawing with Thornhill, whose daughter he married in 1729. Hogarth tried to earn a living with small portraits and portrait groups, but his first real success came in 1732 with a series of six morality pictures, The Harlot's Progress. He first painted, then engraved them, selling subscriptions for the prints, which had great popularity. The Rake's Progress, a similar series, appeared in 1735. The series Marriage à la Mode (1745) is often considered his masterpiece. With a wealth of detail and brilliant characterization he depicts the profligate and inane existence of a fashionable young couple. Hogarth invented a sort of visual shorthand that enabled him to recall with perfect clarity whatever sight he wished to retain. He became, by this means, an enormously learned artist possessing a profound visual understanding. His Analysis of Beauty (1753) is a brilliant formal exposition of the rococorococo
, style in architecture, especially in interiors and the decorative arts, which originated in France and was widely used in Europe in the 18th cent. The term may be derived from the French words rocaille and coquille
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 aesthetic. In such prints as Gin Lane and Four Stages of Cruelty Hogarth is very sincerely didactic, employing the weapons of satire against the cruelty, stupidity, and bombast that he observed in all levels of the society of his day. His portraits The Shrimp Girl (National Gall., London) and Captain Coram (1740) are two of the masterpieces of British painting. Hogarth's major works are in England. In New York City the Metropolitan Museum and the Frick Collection possess examples of his work.


See his Analysis of Beauty, ed. by J. Burke (1955); his graphic works, ed. by R. Paulson (rev. ed. 1970); biographies by P. Quennell (1955), R. Paulson (1971), D. Bindman (1985), and J. Uglow (1997); studies by F. Antal (1962), G. C. Lichtenberg (tr. 1966), S. Shesgreen (1982), and L. S. Cowley (1988).

Hogarth, William


Born Nov. 10, 1697, in London; died there Oct. 25, 1764. British painter, graphic artist, and art theorist.

Hogarth studied with the silversmith E. Gamble and at J. Thornhill’s academy (from 1720) in London. He worked in London and visited France in 1743 and 1748. Hogarth first gained fame from his satirical paintings and copper engravings, in which, in the spirit of the European Enlightenment, he ruthlessly exposed the evils of British life. Examples of such works are the six pictures of A Harlot’s Progress (1730–31, not preserved; engraved in 1732), the eight pictures of A Rake’s Progress (1732–35, Sir John Soane’s museum, London; engraved 1735), the six pictures of Marriage à la Mode (1743–45, National Gallery, London; engraved 1745), and the engravings Gin Lane (1751) and Beer Street (1751).

Hogarth’s portraits are marked by a democratic quality, sharp lifelike characterizations, and a full-blooded realistic technique. Examples are Captain Thomas Coram (1740, Foundling Hospital, London), Self-portrait (1745, Tate Gallery, London), and The Shrimp Girl (c. 1760, National Gallery, London).

In the theoretical treatise Analysis of Beauty (1753), Hogarth called for the use of asymmetric forms (for example, serpentine lines) that would allow life to be reproduced in the diversity of its manifestations. Hogarth’s theories and art greatly influenced 18th-century European culture. The artist’s influence is reflected in the work of L. Sterne in Great Britain and G. E. Lessing and G. C. Lichtenberg in Germany.


In Russian translation:
Analiz krasoty. Leningrad-Moscow, 1958.


Krol’, A. E. U. Khogart. [Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.]
German, M. Iu. Khogart. Moscow, 1971.
Paulson, R. Hogarth: His Life, Art, and Times, vols. 1–2. New Haven-London, 1971.
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