Hogarth and His Times: Serious Comedy

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University of California Press, 1997 - Art - 208 pages
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The reputation of William Hogarth (1697-1764) rests largely on his pictorial stories, a series of engravings that he called "modern Moral Subjects," the most famous being the Harlot's and the Rake's Progress. In this catalog, David Bindman works backward from Hogarth's reputation today--where he is seen by some as a conservative populist and by others as a political radical--and examines his impact on various artists over the past three centuries. Bindman also sets Hogarth's prints firmly in their historical context, discussing the artist's public and the different influences on his work, from Roman satire to the politics of the day. The result is an engaging and insightful portrayal not only of William Hogarth, but also of the middle years of the eighteenth century. Art lovers will enjoy this book, but so too will anyone with an interest in the literature and history of the mid-eighteenth century. The reputation of William Hogarth (1697-1764) rests largely on his pictorial stories, a series of engravings that he called "modern Moral Subjects," the most famous being the Harlot's and the Rake's Progress. In this catalog, David Bindman works backward from Hogarth's reputation today--where he is seen by some as a conservative populist and by others as a political radical--and examines his impact on various artists over the past three centuries. Bindman also sets Hogarth's prints firmly in their historical context, discussing the artist's public and the different influences on his work, from Roman satire to the politics of the day. The result is an engaging and insightful portrayal not only of William Hogarth, but also of the middle years of the eighteenth century. Art lovers will enjoy this book, but so too will anyone with an interest in the literature and history of the mid-eighteenth century.
  

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Page 18 - The painters who have applied themselves more particularly to low and vulgar characters, and who express with precision the various shades of passion as they are exhibited by vulgar minds (such as we see in the works of Hogarth), deserve great praise ; but, as their genius has been employed on low and confined subjects, the praise which we give must be as limited as its object.
Page 36 - Obsequious, artful, voluble, and gay, On Britain's fond credulity they prey. No gainful trade their industry can 'scape, They sing, they dance, clean shoes, or cure a clap. All sciences a fasting Monsieur knows, And bid him go to hell, to hell he goes.
Page 181 - WISDOM crieth without; she uttereth her voice in the streets : she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, "How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.
Page 35 - Moreover, laughing satire bids the fairest for success. The world is too proud to be fond of a serious tutor ; and when an author is in a passion, the laugh, generally, as in conversation, turns against him. This kind of satire only has any delicacy in it. Of this delicacy Horace is the best master : he appears in good humour while he censures ; and therefore his censure has the more weight, as supposed to proceed from judgment, not from passion.
Page 44 - Mr. Hogarth did not commence direct hostilities on the latter, he at least obliquely gave the first offence by an attack on the friends and party of that gentleman. This conduct was the more surprising, as he had all his life avoided dipping his pencil in political contests, and had early refused a very lucrative offer that was made to engage him in a set of prints against the head of a court party. Without entering into the merits of the cause, I shall only state the fact. In September, 1762, Mr....
Page 55 - Who but a bigot, even to the antiques, will say that he has not seen faces and necks, hands and arms in living women, that even the Grecian Venus doth but coarsely imitate?
Page 57 - ... a swan than a dove, either from the stateliness of its motions or its being a more rare bird. And he who gives the preference to the dove, does it from some association of ideas of innocence that he always annexes to the dove; but if he pretends to defend the preference he gives to one or the other, by endeavoring to prove that this more beautiful form proceeds from a particular gradation of magnitude, undulation of a curve, or direction...
Page 21 - I was pleased with the reply of a gentleman, who being asked which book he esteemed most in his library, answered, " Shakspeare: " being asked which he esteemed next best, replied,
Page 173 - No-Dedication ; not dedicated to any prince in Christendom, for fear it might be thought an idle piece of arrogance ; not dedicated to any man of quality, for fear it...
Page 14 - Hogarth had no model to follow and improve upon. He created his art > and used colours instead of language. His place is between the Italians, whom we may consider as epic poets and tragedians, and the Flemish painters, who are as writers of farce and editors of burlesque nature.

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About the author (1997)

David Bindman lectures on the History of Art at University College, London. He is the author of many books, including The Complete Graphic Works of William Blake.

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