The Artist William Hogarth

Born in 1697, William Hogarth was an English artist who became best-known for his sequential art. Aside from his success as a painter, Hogarth was also a printmaker, engraver, and popular cartoonist. His work often contained elements of satire and social criticism. Some of his most famous works include The Beggar’s Opera VI (17310, The Gate of Calais (1749), and An Election Entertainment (1755).

Hogarth was born in London. His father was a teacher and textbook writer. During his youth Hogarth became the apprentice of a Leicester Fields engraver. While learning the art of engraving he also began to sketch London scenes. During this period his father was imprisoned for debt. Hogarth began his career as an engraver; by 1727 he was producing book plates, coats of arms, and other media for various shops. Earlier he had already begun to show his interest in politics and the economy as evidenced by his satirical sketch Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scheme (1721). He married Jane Thornhill in 1729.

Many of Hogarth’s works were dubbed “conversation” pieces such as a work titled The Fontaine Family (1730). Other notable works during this period include Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn (1738) and A Midnight Modern Conversation (1733). Hogarth’s reputation as an artistic genius began with a series of “moral” works called A Harlot’s Progress (1731) which depict a prostitute’s life beginning with her country girl beginnings to her death from venereal disease. The six scenes of the work were shocking to audiences, but also proved immensely popular.

Another popular moral sequence of work is Marriage a-la-mode (1743-1745) which depicted 18th century aristocratic society and its marriages based on money rather than love. The series was popularly circulated and remains one of the artist’s best known artistic sequences. Other sequences depict the lives of apprentices, alcoholism, and cruelty. Aside from these works, Hogarth also became a successful portrait painter. One of his most successful portraits is the famous Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat (1746) painted just before his execution.

Hogarth became an influential artist of the eighteenth century. His prints were also influential to artists of France and Germany. His writings had a strong impact on other artists as well. Other important works by Hogarth include Satire on False Perspective (1753), The Enraged Musician (1741), Moses Brought Before Pharaoh’s Daughter (1747), Captain Thomas Coram (1740), The Four Stages of Cruelty (1751), and Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751).