Synopses & Reviews
Directing his pointed wit at the upper echelons of 18th-century British society, William Hogarth, a painter, printmaker, and social critic, mocked the politics and customs of his day. His series of satirical paintings and engravings, which still absorb viewers after nearly three centuries, record human vice and folly with a sharp eye and cutting intelligence. This compelling book, with an accompanying DVD narrated by Alan Bennett, examines Hogarth's best-known series of paintings, Marriage A-la-Mode
, and unlocks many mysteries that have surrounded this gripping artistic commentary.
Marriage A-la-Mode recounts the story of a marriage arranged between the son of a spendthrift nobleman who needs cash and the daughter of a rich City of London merchant who hopes to buy social status. Love never develops, and the discordant lives of the bride and bridegroom descend into adultery and venereal disease followed by murder, execution, and suicide. Judy Egerton deciphers the visual cues and symbols Hogarth employs in his comic story of doubtful morals.
This book traces some key developments in British 18th- and 19th-century painting, focusing in particular on the outstanding portraits and landscapes in the National Galleryand#8217;s collection. Compare what rival portrait painters Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Joshua Reynolds offered their sitters: the choice between shimmering colours and expressive brushwork, or ennobling classical references. Their techniques and philosophical ideals would be challenged and developed even further by the next generation. The ground-breaking landscapes that Constable and Turner produced inspired the French Impressionists, and are still among the worldand#8217;s favourite paintings today.
About the Author
Judy Egerton is a leading authority on British painting and has previously worked at the National Gallery, London, and the Tate. She was senior research fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art from 1998 to 2006. Alan Bennett is an actor and writer of plays and films. He is a former trustee of the National Gallery, London.