William Hogarth (10 November 1697 - 26 October 1764) was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic and editorial cartoonist who has been credited with pioneering western sequential art. His work ranged from realistic portraiture to comic strip-like series of pictures called "modern moral subjects". Knowledge of his work is so pervasive that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as "Hogarthian."
William Hogarth was born at Bartholomew Close in London to Richard Hogarth, a poor Latin school teacher and textbook writer, and Anne Gibbons. In his youth he was apprenticed to the engraver Ellis Gamble in Leicester Fields, where he learned to engrave trade cards and similar products. Young Hogarth also took a lively interest in the street life of the metropolis and the London fairs, and amused himself by sketching the characters he saw. Around the same time, his father, who had opened an unsuccessful Latin-speaking coffee house at St John's Gate, was imprisoned for debt in Fleet Prison for five years. Hogarth never spoke of his father's imprisonment.He became a member of the Rose and Crown Club, with Peter Tillemans, George Vertue, Michael Dahl, and other artists and connoisseurs.
Early satirical works included an Emblematical Print on The South Sea Scheme (c.1721), about the disastrous stock market crash of 1720 known as the South Sea Bubble, in which many English people lost a great deal of money. In the bottom left corner, he shows Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish figures gambling, while in the middle there is a huge machine, like a merry-go-round, which people are boarding. At the top is a goat, written below which is "Who'l Ride". The people are scattered around the picture with a sense of disorder, while the progress of the well dressed people towards the ride in the middle shows the foolishness of the crowd in buying stock in The South Sea Company, which spent more time issuing stock than anything else.
Other early works include The Lottery (1724), The Mystery of Masonry brought to Light by the Gormogons (1724), A Just View of the British Stage (1724), some book illustrations, and the small print, Masquerades and Operas (1724). The latter is a satire on contemporary follies, such as the masquerades of the Swiss impresario John James Heidegger, the popular Italian opera singers, John Rich's pantomimes at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and the exaggerated popularity of Lord Burlington's protege, the architect and painter William Kent. He continued that theme in 1727, with the Large Masquerade Ticket. In 1726 Hogarth prepared twelve large engravings for Samuel Butler's Hudibras. These he himself valued highly, and are among his best book illustrations.
In the following years he turned his attention to the production of small "conversation pieces". Among his efforts in oil between 1728 and 1732 were The Fountaine Family (c.1730), The Assembly at Wanstead House, The House of Commons examining Bambridge, and several pictures of the chief actors in John Gay's popular The Beggar's Opera.
One of his masterpieces of this period is the depiction of an amateur performance of John Dryden's The Indian Emperor, or The Conquest of Mexico (1732-1735) at the home of John Conduitt, master of the mint, in St George's Street, Hanover Square. Hogarth's other works in the 1730s include A Midnight Modern Conversation (1733), Southwark Fair (1733), The Sleeping Congregation (1736), Before and After (1736), Scholars at a Lecture (1736), The Company of Undertakers (Consultation of Quacks) (1736), The Distrest Poet (1736), The Four Times of the Day (1738), and Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn (1738). He may also have printed Burlington Gate (1731), evoked by Alexander Pope's Epistle to Lord Burlington, and defending Lord Chandos, who is therein satirized. This print gave great offence, and was suppressed (some modern authorities, however, no longer attribute this to Hogarth).
Hogarth was also a popular portrait painter. In 1746 he painted actor David Garrick as Richard III, for which he was paid Pounds 200, âwhich was more,â he wrote, âthan any English artist ever received for a single portrait.â In the same year a sketch of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, afterwards beheaded on Tower Hill, had an exceptional success. Hogarth's truthful, vivid full-length portrait of his friend, the philanthropic Captain Coram (1740, formerly Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, now Foundling Museum), and his unfinished oil sketch of The Shrimp Girl (National Gallery, London) may be called masterpieces of British painting.
During a long period of his life, Hogarth tried to achieve the status of history painter, but had no great success in this field.
Examples of his history pictures are The Pool of Bethesda and The Good Samaritan, executed in 1736-1737 for St Bartholomew's Hospital, Moses brought before Pharaoh's Daughter, painted for the Foundling Hospital (1747, formerly at the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, now in the Foundling Museum), Paul before Felix (1748) at Lincoln's Inn, and his altarpiece for St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol (1756).
Notable Hogarth engravings in the 1740s includeThe Enraged Musician (1741), the six prints of Marriage Ã -la-mode (1745, executed by French artists under Hogarth's inspection), and The Stage Coach or The Country Inn Yard (1747). In 1745 Hogarth painted a self-portrait with his pug dog (now also in Tate Britain), which shows him as a learned artist supported by volumes of Shakespeare, Milton and Swift. In 1749, he represented the somewhat disorderly English troops on their March of the Guards to Finchley (formerly located in Thomas Coram Foundation for Children, now Foundling Museum).
Others were his ingenious Satire on False Perspective (1753), his satire on canvassing in his Election series (1755-1758, now in Sir John Soane's Museum), his ridicule of the English passion for cockfighting in The Cockpit (1759), his attack on Methodism in Credulity, Superstition, and Fanaticism (1762), his political anti-war satire in The Times, plate I (1762), and his pessimistic view of all things in Tailpiece, or The Bathos (1764).
Hogarth's work were a direct influence on John Collier, who was known as the "Lancashire Hogarth". The spread of Hogarth's prints throughout Europe, together with the depiction of popular scenes from his prints in faked Hogarth prints, influenced Continental book illustration through the 18th and early 19th Century, especially in Germany and France. Hogarth's influence lives on today as artists continue to draw inspiration from the artist. In the 20th Century, publications like The Guardian and Financial Times have praised artist Adam Dant for his Hogarthian graphic style.
Hogarth's paintings and prints have provided the subject matter for several other works. For example, Igor Stravinsky's opera The Rake's Progress, with libretto by W. H. Auden, was inspired by Hogarth's series of paintings of that title. Russell Banks' short story "Indisposed" is a fictional account of Hogarth's infidelity as told from the viewpoint of his wife, Jane. Hogarth's engravings also inspired the BBC radio play "The Midnight House" by Jonathan Hall, based on the M.R. James ghost story "The Mezzotint" and first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2006.
Hogarth's House in Chiswick, west London, is now a museum, it abuts one of London's best known road junctions - the Hogarth Roundabout.