Art of William Hogarth

The British art in 18th century. Portraits as very much the easiest and most favourable way for the artist in Europe to earn on life. William Hogarth was the first to draw themes from Shakespeare and investigated the basic esthetic principles of art.

Рубрика Культура и искусство
Вид реферат
Язык английский
Дата добавления 08.05.2011
Размер файла 13,2 K

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British art in the 18th century is an example of the developing of new style on the background of tradition.

At that time portraiture was the main stream of art because it was popular among aristocracy to order portraits of members of their family. Portraits were, as elsewhere in Europe, much the easiest and most profitable way for an artist to make a living. Many of the famous artists specialized in portraiture. The old tradition of painting portraits was hard. Painters had to place the sitter's figure against a piece of the Italian landscape or a piece of curtain. Dark colours predominated in the colour scheme of almost all pictures. The sitter's figure had to be arranged in a certain pose. Almost all sitters wished to be depicted as antique personages and painters had to follow these rules.

But some painters of that period broke with this tradition. New genres and new styles appeared in painting. Thomas Gainsborough began to depict English landscape. William Hogarth was the first to paint themes from Shakespeare and investigated the aesthetic principles of art.

Many scholars say there was no English school before the 18th century.

The foundation of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1769 showed that artists were beginning to establish themselves as professionals, with intellectual weight and creative skills.

hogart art portrait


William Hogarth was born in 1697 in Smithfields, London. He was the son of Latin teacher Richard Hogarth. The elder Hogarth later opened a coffee house, but the venture was a disaster, and he was jailed in Fleet Street prison when he was unable to pay his debts.

William later apprenticed as a silver-plate engraver to master engraver Ellis Gamble. When his apprenticeship period ended, Hogarth went into business for himself. It was at this period of his life that Hogarth met a man who was to prove an inspiration for his future career, artist Sir James Thornhill. Hogarth attended classes at Thornhill's free art academy in Covent Garden, became friends with the artist, and eventually married his daughter, Jane.

Hogarth worked for print sellers, and also published his own work, notably the moralistic tale The Harlot's Progress (1732). He liked to expose the dark sides of life.

The following year he began his famous series The Rake's Progress, showing the decline of a young man into a life of drunkenness and immorality.

A successful and mature artist in his own right now, Hogarth managed to use his influence to press passage of a law aimed at preventing publication of artist's works without payment of royalties. He didn't try to conform the taste of the period. He also helped found the St. Martin's Lane Academy for young artists.

Although Hogarth was successful producing portrait engravings, it is as a social commentator that he is most widely remembered. He produced several series of prints depicting the sordid details of common life among the lower classes (notably Gin Lane), and political satire such as The Election.

The latter style, particularly his anti-war The Times (1762) made him many enemies in Parliament, but Hogarth continued his feisty, bitingly satirical work to the end. He died on October 25, 1764.

He didn't become famous overnight, he worked hard and tried to develop his own style of painting. He liked to depict scenes of common life and to portray people with moving sincerity. His pictures were not a colourless daub of paint, they were really unsurpassed masterpieces.

Style and genre

William Hogarth is unquestionably one of the greatest English artists and a man of remarkably individual character and thought. He is the great innovator in English art. Hogarth was in advance of his time. On one hand, he was the first to depict themes from Shakespeare, Milton and the theater, and the founder of a wholly original genre of moral history, which was long known as Hogarthian. On the other, he investigated the aesthetic principles of his art, which resulted in his book “The Analysis of Beauty”(1753).

His first success as a painter was in the `conversational pieces', in which figure informal groups of family and friends surrounded by customary things from their common life. He was not the inventor of the genre, and had many contemporary rivals, but his pictures are marked with his own individuality: The Fishing Party (c.1730), The Wedding of Stephen Bechingham and Mary Cox (c.1730). The scene from The Beggar's Opera, the picture of an actual stage, brought him great success. He was really a master in genre painting. The result of this accomplishment was the idea of his own `theater': the creation of `pictorial dramas' and reaching wider public through the means of engraving. The first successful series The Harlot's Progress, of which only the engravings now exist (the originals were burnt in 1755), was immediately followed by the tremendous verve of The Rake's Progress; the masterpiece of the story series “The Marriage a la Mode” followed, after an interval of twelve years. Hogarth' satires were serious moral and social satires, besides being good paintings.

In portraiture, Hogarth displays a great variety and originality: George Arnold (c.1740), Mary Edwards (1742), Bishop Benjamin Hoadly (1743). The charm of childhood, the ability to capture the sitter's vitality, a delightful delicacy of color appears in The Graham Children (1742). The portrait heads of his servants are penetrating studies of character: Hogarth's Servants. (c.1750). The painting of Captain Thomas Coram (1740), the philanthropic sea captain who took a leading part in the foundation of the Foundling Hospital, adapts the formality of the ceremonial portrait to a democratic level. The painter's character is reflected faithfully in his forthright Self-Portrait with Pug-Dog (1745). The quality of Hogarth as a mature artist is seen to advantage in his sketches and one sketch in particular, the famous The Shrimp Girl (c.1740-1743) quickly executed with a limited range of color, stands alone in his work, taking its place among the masterpieces of the world in combining form and colour into harmonious unity, its freshness and vitality.

Analysis of the piece of art

It is a ceremonial portrait, where a group of people are depicted. All characters are in natural poses and with natural faces. It is painted in traditional way for that time. It looks solemn but natural.

There are a bridegroom and a bride, a priest and several guests in the picture. Also there is an angel above the bridegroom and the bride. It takes place in a catholical church. The couple seems to be happy and the guests are happy too. The clothes are suitable to that period of time. The author is successful in capturing the sitters' vitality.

The traditional way of painting is proved by the smooth brushstrokes and dark brown, red and yellow colors which predominate in the color-scheme of this picture. The sitters are arranged symmetrically in a vertical format.

The atmosphere of happiness is stressed by angels depicted there.

It is a conversational piece. The author William Hogarth was a mature artist in this kind of painting and developed his own style of it.

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