Synopses & Reviews
This fresh and engaging perspective of William Hogarth (1697-1764) reveals him as a figure who reinvented the very idea of what it is to be an artist.
Hogarth was the first artist to make his living as a humorist, brilliantly inventing a means of reproducing a wit for wide public consumption. He adapted literary satire as a graphic art form and invented the serial print. In his portraits, his representation of human character and its passions broke new ground, as did his depiction of disease and its effects on the body. His sympathy with the human predicament and natural tendency for philanthropy also surfaced in his art.
Taking a thematic approach to this quintessentially British artist, Matthew Craske introduces the reader to Hogarth's varied artistic production, including his series, engravings, portraits, and such major paintings as A Rake's Progress. He brings to life an artist who produced works aimed at fostering self-improvement--works in which vice can ruin the aristocrat as swiftly as the harlot--but also works of great humor. We meet an artist emblematic of his day and time but also utterly innovative and long-sighted.
"Hogarth appeared early in the development of that popular form of pictorial satire continued by Gillray, Rowlandson, and Cruikshank, and in his own right a painter in oils of great distinction, he was a well-known figure on the political scene of Georgian England. Eschewing a 'life and art' biographical approach in an already crowded field (three important books by Paulson, Bindman, and Uglow since 1971), Craske's purpose, in a superbly illustrated volume of 80 pages, is to show the man as an artist in his own time through the interpretation of his works on the theme of 'my picture is my stage.' In this way, we come to know Hogarth as a social critic, a reformer of morals and manners, who by his prints and paintings hoped to enlist the support of a larger audience than could be counted on through patronage. Although he exposed the grotesque to make his point that the degenerate could be found at the top of society as well as at the bottom, his position was the mean between Puritan restraint and public profligacy in which good behavior came to be more important than good birth. As a short, but expert, introduction to the artist and his times, this book has much to recommend it." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
About the Author
Matthew Craske is Henry Moore Foundation Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Freedom of the Times 11
Chapter 2: The Ideals and Realities of Self-Improvement 14
Chapter 3: 'Britophil' 25
Chapter 4: Liberty and Libertinism 41
Chapter 5: Hogarth's Sympathy for, and Affinity with, the 'Nobodies' of Society 58
Select Bibliography 78