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William Hogarth

Honors Art History 

The Grandfather of Satire

Sophie Estoppey

This booklet focuses on William Hogarth and the impression he left on society through his art and character. His art challenged others of the time and pushed the boundaries to make people think and see the truth. I chose him because not only is he an established painter, he is known for his engravings as well. This booklet will provide insight into Hogarth's childhood, struggles, artistic transition and most famous works. 

  • William Hogarth was born in 1697 in London, England on November 10th. His father, Richard Hogarth, opened an unsuccessful coffee house and was later imprisoned for five years for debt. His mother was Anne Gibbons and he had two sisters and he was married to Jane Thornhill. William Hogarth is known for his moral and satirical engravings and paintings, which is why he is referred to as the "grandfather of satire". Early on, he was an apprentice to Ellis Gamble, a known engraver. He had a lot of interest in the street life around him and he would sketch all the different "characters" he saw. Although he started off as an engraver, in 1727 he was hired by a tapestry worker to prepare a design for the Element of Earth. However, the engraver declined the work because he wasn't pleased with the outcome, so Hogarth later sued him and won. He also was a member of the Rose and Crown Club. In 1757 he was appointed Sergeant Painter to the King.He died in London on October 26, 1764.

His Early Life

     His artwork had many flowing lines and intricate decoration which went along with the movement. He was a true innovator, he was not really inspired or influenced by any before him. He was known for ridiculing earlier artists rather than using them for inspiration. Although he was a famous painter, he was more famous for his engravings than his paintings. His main mediums were Oil, Prints, and Wood. He was a trained engraver in the Rcoco fashion and his paintings contained strong tenants of this era.  His works followed a theme of marly and strongly contrasted the Renaissance work before his period (which was mostly religious). 


    In 1753 he published his Analysis of Beauty which focused on what he believed to the the five viewing aspics of art that made it successful (fitness [is it socially acceptable], variety, regularity, intricacy, and quantity). He wanted to extract entertaining and instructive incidents from life.

    William Hogarth was a part of the Rococo movement (AKA "Late Baroque"). This was an artistic period that originated in France and spread all over Europe. It was the final expression in the Baroque movement and it pushed the principles of illusion and theatricality, asymmetry, fluid curves, and an ornament that dominated the architectural space.

His Style

His Most Famous Works

  • Hogarth is best known for his series of paintings of “modern moral subject,” which he sold engravings on subscription

    • This includes a set called “Marriage A-la-mode”

-Marriage a-la-mode:1, The Marriage Settlement       


-Oil on Canvas

-The National Gallery 

-These paintings were models from which the engravings would be made. The story starts in the Manison of Earl Squander who is arranging to marry his son to the daughter of a wealthy by mean city merchant and ends with the murder of the son and the suicide of the daughter

  • -Beer Street and Gin Lane
    • -They are a pair of prints created in 1751
    • -They were published in support of the Gin Act
    • -Beer Street depicts happy healthy Londoners relaxing with a few beers
    • Gin Lane shows citizens consumed with evil and overindulgence
    • -In the British Museum 

  • -A Harlot’s Progress 
    • -His first “modern Moral subjects” 
    • -It is a series of six paintings and engraving 
    • early 1730’s 
    • -The series tell a cautionary tale of Moll Hackabout who arrives in London and falls from grace, becomes a kept woman and then a prostitute who later dies from syphillis
    • -The British Museum 

  • -The Painter and his Pug
    • -It is a painting within a painting (a self portrait)
    • -1745
    • -Has him in an informal garb (originally in formal wear, according to X-rays)
    • -The dog depicted is his pet pug Trump and is thought to represent his pugnacious character

  • -The Four stages of Cruelty
    • -1751 
    • -Engraving
    • -depicts the various stages of life of his fictional protagonist Tom Nero and his descent into vicious cruelty
    • -Hogarth suggests that his increasingly worse crimes were natural progression 

  • -The Shrimp Girl 
    • -He experimented with portraits of hawkers and street-sellers in a style that has been compared to Rococo oriented works by Jean Honoré Fragonard and Thomas Gainsborough
    • -Technically never finished it remained in his possession until his death 
    • -National Gallery 
    • -1740-1745

Personal Picks

  • My Two favorite pieces are the Marriage A-La-Mode collection and Beer Street and Gin Lane 

  • I like the Marriage A-La-Mode collection because it is a group f works that tell a very interesting story. He is known for pushing the boundaries of many social norms, and with these paintings he blatantly made fun of the upper class and marriage as a whole (especially arranged marriage). The paintings in this collection tend to be mostly dark colors (green, red, brown, black) with one part of the painting just a little bit lighter, to draw the eye of the viewer to the part of the story that is being told. I find it incredible how the slightest shade difference can do so much.

  • I like Beer Street and Gin Lane because it touches on the political and social issues of the time. I also like how he showed both sides of the argument and how alcohol can be good and bad. The etching is amazing because of the depth and shades he was able to show just by using different typed of etching and thickness and angles of the lines. Also Im fascinated by the amount of detail he was able to do in the background.