William Hogarth is also recognized as an outstanding master of social satire and caricature. His paintings were very popular during the artist’s life and have not lost their relevance in our time.
William Hogarth is rightfully considered the founder of realism in English painting. To realize his grandiose creative ideas, the artist often created not separate works, but whole cycles of paintings and engravings, united by a common plot.
William Hogarth was born on November 10, 1697 in London, into a poor family of a Latin teacher. His father, being an adventurer by nature, constantly got involved in dubious stories in order to get rich, but always failed. And the implementation of the idea of founding a cafe, where visitors could communicate with each other only in Latin, ended at all with the imprisonment of the head of the family in a debt prison.
From early childhood, William became interested in drawing, but did not have the opportunity to study painting due to lack of funds. On the contrary, at the age of 15, he was forced to get a job in an engraving workshop, and at 20 (after the death of his father), Hogarth took care of the maintenance of his mother and two sisters. The acquired engraving skills allowed William to carry out small orders for the production of business cards.
But the young man was not satisfied with the prospect of a miserable penniless existence. Therefore, he soon began to take private lessons in painting and diligently engaged in self-education.
In 1720, Hogarth opened his own engraving workshop, and a year later he gained fame in London after creating a series of graphic satire on the collapse of the South Seas company and the theatrical life of the British capital.
1724 was a turning point in the life of William Hogarth.
He not only went to study with the famous artist James Thornhill, but also met the young 15-year-old daughter of his teacher. Soon the young people fell in love, but they could not hope for the blessing of the girl’s father. In 1729, the lovers got married in secret and lived in marriage until the artist’s death, although they were not lucky enough to have children.
1720-1730s the period of Hogarth’s formation as an artist. At this time, he actively studied painting and the art of book illustration, wrote many group portraits of London aristocrats. But Hogarth’s real fame was brought by a series of six paintings “The Career of a Prostitute”, as well as numerous engravings created on its basis.
The public liked the idea of creating painting and engraving cycles so much that Hogarth subsequently repeatedly returned to it in his work. By the mid-50s of the 18th century, William Hogarth finally became the most popular British painter and printmaker. His satirical prints were sold in the thousands, and the king appointed the master as court painter.
Hogarth constantly receives orders to paint portraits of London nobles, his financial situation is rapidly improving. The recognized master tries himself in the historical genre, but without much success with the public.
William Hogarth died in his native London on October 26, 1764, leaving his descendants hundreds of beautiful works, as well as his own memoirs and a treatise on the theory of art “Analysis of Beauty”.
The most famous paintings by William Hogarth
- Self-portrait (1745) is an original interpretation by the author of the classic genre of self-portrait. The artist is depicted drawn inside another picture, while the dog, on the contrary, acts here as the “true” hero of the work.
- The cycle “The career of a prostitute” (1731) describes the sad fate of a woman of easy virtue of that era. This series not only brought fame to the artist, but also served as the basis for the TV movie of the same name, which was released in 2006.
- The Fashionable Marriage cycle (1743-45) is a series that ridicules the mores of 18th century English society. The heroes of the paintings are depicted as victims of the surrounding circumstances and cause pity in the viewer.
- The cycle “Parliamentary Elections” (1755) is a caustic satire on the imperfection of the electoral rights of people in England. The artist exposes corruption and intimidation of citizens during parliamentary elections.