William Hogarth, the Father of Moral Paintings

William Hogarth, the Father of Moral Paintings

William Hogarth was an English artist born in London, England on the 10th of November, 1697 (died October 26th, 1764) He is known for many things, like being a printmaker, an engraver, a cartoonist, and a moral painter.

His artistic works have message meanings, not spiritual, but just messages of satire, social criticism, or just portraits of people he found interesting. He was mostly known for his creativity with satire and observation and other narrative skills in general when it comes to art such as humor. Hogarth is the father of moral paintings. A moral painting is applied directly on a permanent object.


Early Years

 He was born in a lower income family in London. His mother is Anne Gibbons, and his father is Richard Hogarth. Richard is a poor Latin school teacher. His father has many periods of poor types of financial situations.

The father also got jailed for five years because of debt resulting from a failed coffee business that is Latin speaking.

 The beginning of his journey of art is when he became an apprentice to Ellis Gamble in Leicester Fields. Gamble is an engraver who taught William Hogarth to engrave cards. This was a big key in the development of his printmaking skills. Also, at the Sir Thornhill academy, he learned about painting.

In his young days, he also used art to entertain himself. He embraced the fact paced life in the city in London and since there are a lot of people in the city, there are different and even strange people, so Hogarth sketches all of these people.

Eventually, he would become a part of the Rose and Crown Club which is a club of artists and experts of art in the 1700’s of London.

 Eventually by 1720, Hogarth became a full-time engraver. He did a variety of works as an engraver like engraving coats of arms, plates for booksellers, and shop bills.

Works and Compositions Hogarth is famous for this moral paintings and the stories they tell. He is a great story teller, even with just paintings. His amount of talent was high in this regard. He uses sequences with his moral paintings to tell stories successfully. This is represented like sequential works like “A Harlot’s Progress”, and “A Rakes Progress”. This is done only with detailed works of paint on a canvas which is creative in it’s own right.

An example of Hogarth’s skill with standing out symbols is a self portrait of his, called “The Painter and his Pug” which was created in 1745. As seen in this portrait, Hogarth is in the painting presented in another painting. He is in the painting looking straight at the viewer of the painting.

His pug that he loves a lot who is named Trump is in the composition not looking at the viewer, nor the owner in the canvas, but just looking elsewhere. The detailed features of the pug suggest that it may be feeling sad and it wants to connect with its owner through being close to the canvas of the owner. This composition also suggests that bonds between two beings can exist even without physical connection if the bond is strong enough. It also suggests that the world of art was not completely unrelating to reality, but that art is just a safe-zone of human feelings, thoughts, dreams, ideals, nightmares, and strong feelings into a combination to an alive situation. This is what made Hogarth special, with just a detailed painting with no words or speeches at the concert, he is able to take the human emotion and place them into unique characters as in a form of a painting.

 As seen in another part of the picture near the stack of books, there is a wooden palette with a slim curved object on it. There, you can see “The LINE of BEAUTY” carved onto it. This can be going to Hogarth’s theories of aesthetics. In 1753, he made his ideas of the nature of beauty public. He stated that beauty can be found in complex and curved lines. He also appreciated variety in art work. This is like abstract art, but a lot less detailed in some cases and with less meaningful symbolism.


Other Facts About William Hogarth


Noteworthy Works


“Gin Lane”

“A Harlot’s Progress”

“A Rake’s Progress”

“The Painter and his Pug”


How did he die and where did he get buried?


He got buried at St.Nicholas Church, Chiswick in western London. He died from a stroke.


His wife and other facts


  • His wife is Jane Hogarth which is the daughter of the English painter James Thornhill
  • This couple had no children
  • Horgarth’s house in Chiswick (a district of London) is now preserved as a museum.
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