William Hogarth:The Man Who Unmasked an Era




William Hogarth (10 November 1697 – 26 October 1764) was a master engraver, printmaker , satirist, and biting social commentator who seems to have made it his life’s mission to unmask and expose the follies and vice of Georgian society.


 In 1731, he completed the first of his moral works which earned him acclaim as a great and original genius.The six scenes depict the horrific fate of a country girl inducted into a life of prostitution from the time the bawd meets her upon arrival to her tragic death of venereal disease.



A RAKE’S PROGRESS:In 1735 Hogarth finish his sequel,  A Rake’s Progress , eight pictures depicting the reckless life of Tom Rakewell, the son of a rich merchant, who squanders his inheritance on debauched living – drinking, gambling and whoring, ultimately ending life as an inmate of  Bedlam.

Great Youtube of A Rakes Progress:


 MARRIAGE ALA MODE: In 1743–1745 Hogarth went on to satirize arranged marriages in upper class society in his series  Marriage à-la-mode  This series depicts the misery of both parties in a marriage transacted for material gain. The series tells the story of the fashionable marriage of the son of bankrupt Earl Squanderfield to the daughter of a wealthy city merchant. It begins with the signing of a marriage contract and ends with the husband’s murder by the wife’s lover, followed by her suicide when the lover is hanged.

This series is particularly near and dear to me as it served in part to inspire the intricate “marital arrangements” that take place in THE HIGHEST STAKES.

In 1747 the twelve prints of Industry and Idleness  shows the progression in the lives of two apprentices, one of whom is dedicated and hard-working, who ultimately becomes Lord Mayor of London, and the idle apprentice who comes to a bad end (of a rope) after becoming a highwayman.

Upon Hogarth’s death  in 1764, his friend, actor David Garrick, composed the following inscription for his tombstone:

Farewell great Painter of Mankind

Who reach’d the noblest point of Art

Whose pictur’d Morals charm the Mind

And through the Eye correct the Heart.

If Genius fire thee, Reader, stay,

If Nature touch thee, drop a Tear:

If neither move thee, turn away,

For Hogarth’s honour’d dust lies here.




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