Marriage-A-la-Mode, one of William Hogarth's paintings

The Genius of William Hogarth's Moral Paintings and Satirical Works



William Hogarth was an English artist born in London, England, on November 10th, 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 portraits of people he found interesting. 



He was mostly known for his creativity with satire and observation and other narrative skills in general in art, such as humor. Hogarth is the father of moral paintings. A moral painting is applied directly to a permanent object.



Early Years


He was born into 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 had many periods of poor financial situations. The failed coffee business caused the father to be jailed for five years due to debt.



The beginning of his journey in art is when he became an apprentice to Ellis Gamble in Leicester Fields. Gamble is an engraver who taught William Hogarth to engrave cards. 



That was a big key in the development of his printmaking skills. Also, at Sir Thornhill academy, he learned about painting.



In his young days, he also used art to entertain himself. He embraced the fast-paced life in the city of London. Since there are many people in the town, there are different and even strange people, Hogarth sketches all of these people.



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



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



Works and Compositions


Hogarth is famous for his moral paintings and the stories they tell. His amount of talent was high in this regard. He is a great storyteller, even with just paintings. 



He uses sequences with his moral paintings to tell stories successfully. That representation can be seen in sequential works such as "A Harlot's Progress" and "A Rake's Progress."



That is done only with detailed works of paint on a canvas which is creative in its own right.



The Painter and his Pug



An example of Hogarth’s skill with standing out symbols is a self-portrait of his, called “The Painter and his Pug,” 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.


His pug, whom he loves a lot and 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 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 a physical connection if the bond is strong enough.


It also suggests that the art world was somewhat unrelated to reality. However, that art is just a safe zone of human feelings, thoughts, dreams, ideals, nightmares, and strong feelings combined into an actual situation.


That is what made Hogarth special; with just a detailed painting with no words or speeches at the concert, he can take human emotion and place it into unique characters as 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.


You can see “The LINE of BEAUTY” carved onto it there. That 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 could be found in complex and curved lines. He also appreciated variety in the artwork. That is like abstract art, but a lot less detailed in some cases and with less meaningful symbolism.



Noteworthy Works

  • Tailpiece
  • Gin Lane
  • A Harlot’s Progress
  • A Rake’s Progress
  • The Painter and his Pug



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