Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hogarth, William (1697-1764)
HOGARTH, WILLIAM (1697–1764), painter and engraver, was born, according to the register of births at Great St. Bartholomew, West Smithfield (Notes and Queries, 6 March 1880), ‘in Barthw Closte, next door to Mr. Downinge's the Printer's, November ye 10th 1697, and was baptized ye 28th Novr 1697.’ He had two sisters, of whom one, Mary, was born 23 Nov. 1699, and also baptised (10 Dec.) at St. Bartholomew, and Ann, born in October 1701, and baptised (6 Nov.) at St. Sepulchre. The family, known indifferently as Hogard, Hogart, or Hogarth, came originally from Kirkby Thore in Westmoreland; and William Hogarth's father, Richard Hogarth, was the third son of a yeoman farmer, who lived in the vale of Bampton, about fifteen miles north of Kendal. His mother's maiden name, as recorded in an old family bible, once in the possession of Mr. H. P. Standly, and sold with his collection in April 1845, was Gibbons. Of the rest of Hogarth's relatives little is known, but he had a literary uncle in Thomas Hogarth (‘Auld’ or ‘Ald Hogart’) of Troutbeck, a rustic dramatist and satirist, some of whose ‘Remnants of Rhyme’ were published at Kendal as late as 1853 from manuscripts ‘preserved by his descendants.’ Richard Hogarth himself was educated at St. Bees, and afterwards kept a school in his native county of Westmoreland. This proving unsuccessful, he came to London. He must have been living in Bartholomew Close in 1697–9 when his first two children were born, but in 1701, when Ann Hogarth was baptised, he was resident in St. John Street, Clerkenwell. Later on he was keeping another school in Ship Court, Old Bailey, which could scarcely have been more fortunate than its provincial predecessor, for he is said to have been also employed as a hack-writer and corrector of the press. It is as a literary man that his son first refers to him. ‘My father's pen,’ he says in the brief autobiographical sketch published by John Ireland in 1798, ‘like that of many other authors, did not enable him to do more than put me in a way of shifting for myself.’ Richard Hogarth was, however, a man of some acquirements. He compiled, but never printed, a Latin dictionary in extension of Littleton. His son possessed the manuscript (part of which afterwards passed into the hands of John Ireland), together with several laudatory letters from the learned, which, unhappily, failed to secure a publisher for the work. There are also some Latin epistles by him in the British Museum, and in 1712 he published a little book called ‘Disputationes Grammaticales.’ ‘As I had naturally a good eye,’ Hogarth's autobiography goes on, ‘and a fondness for drawing, shows of all sorts gave me uncommon pleasure when an infant; and mimickry, common to all children, was remarkable in me. An early access to a neighbouring painter drew my attention from play; and I was, at every possible opportunity, employed in making drawings. I picked up an acquaintance of the same turn, and soon learnt to draw the alphabet with great correctness. My exercises at school were more remarkable for the ornaments which adorned them, than for the exercise itself’ (John Ireland, iii. 3–4).
Neither the ‘neighbouring painter’ nor the ‘acquaintance of the same turn’ has been identified. But by his own account, and ‘conformable to his own wishes,’ which his father's precarious circumstances had not disposed towards a liberal education, he was taken from school and apprenticed to a silver-plate engraver, Mr. Ellis Gamble, at the sign of the Golden Angel in Cranbourne Street or Alley, Leicester Fields. Here he learned to chase salvers and tankards, speedily becoming skilful in the craft. One of the earliest of his works was his master's shop-card, in which the angel of the sign flourishes a bulky palm branch above the announcement, in French and English, that Mr. Gamble ‘makes, buys, and sells all sorts of plate, rings, and jewels, &c.’ Many of Hogarth's designs for plate are highly prized by collectors, and John Ireland (iii. 25) prints a copy of a coat of arms in his possession, drawn for the Duchess of Kendal, which certainly gave promise of future excellence. During this period also, by a system which he has described in his autobiography, Mr. Gamble's apprentice was diligently training his perceptive faculty and fortifying his already exceptional eye-memory with a view to practising as a designer and line-engraver. ‘Engraving on copper,’ he says, ‘was at twenty years of age my utmost ambition.’
On 11 May 1718 Richard Hogarth, who had been living in Long Lane, West Smithfield, was buried (Notes and Queries, ut supra). About or shortly after this date his son's apprenticeship to Mr. Gamble must have come to an end, and he began business on his own account. With the exception of a snuff-box lid engraved (1717?) with a scene from the ‘Rape of the Lock,’ his earliest work is his own shop-card, embellished with cupids and inscribed ‘W. Hogarth, Engraver, Aprill ye 23rd 1720.’ ‘His first employment,’ says Nichols (Genuine Works, i. 17), ‘seems to have been the engraving of arms and shop-bills.’ From this he proceeded to design plates for the booksellers and printsellers. Two of these, each bearing the words ‘Willm Hogarth, Invt et Sculpsit,’ belong to the year 1721. They are ‘An Emblematical Print on the South Sea’ and ‘The Lottery.’ These were succeeded in 1723 by eighteen plates to the travels of Aubry de la Mottraye; seven plates to Briscoe's ‘Apuleius,’ 1724; a plate entitled ‘Some of the Principal Inhabitants of ye Moon, &c.; or Royalty, Episcopacy, and Law,’ 1724; another known as ‘Masquerades and Operas, Burlington Gate,’ 1724, said to be the first he published on his own account; a frontispiece to the sixth edition of Horneck's ‘Happy Ascetick,’ 1724; five plates for Cotterel's translation of ‘Cassandra,’ 1725; fifteen headpieces for Beaver's ‘Roman Military Punishments,’ 1725; a satire on William Kent's altarpiece for St. Clement Danes, 1725; a frontispiece to Amhurst's ‘Terræ-Filius,’ 1726; twenty-six figures for Blackwell's ‘Compendium of Military Discipline,’ 1726; and twelve large and seventeen small plates to Butler's ‘Hudibras.’ Besides these there are several doubtful works which belong to this period, e.g. ‘A Just View of the British Stage,’ 1725, being a satire upon Booth, Wilks, and Cibber, the patentees of Drury Lane; a plate of the singers Berenstat, Cuzzoni, and Senesino, 1725; ‘Cunicularii,’ a squib upon Mary Tofts, the Godalming rabbit-breeder, and ‘The Punishment Inflicted on Lemuel Gulliver,’ a coarse incident à la Swift, both of which last belong to 1726. Of these earlier works Walpole in his ‘Anecdotes of Painting’ speaks too sweepingly. More than one of them are interesting from their indications of the artist's future career as a designer and satirist. In ‘Masquerades and Operas,’ which he himself calls ‘The Taste of the Town,’ he already declares against foreign singers and fashionable quackeries. In the St. Clement Danes burlesque he gives the coup de grâce to Kent's discredited masterpiece; and in the illustrations to ‘Hudibras’ he begins to manifest his incomparable sense of the grotesque, his perception of character, and his power of composition.
In these last-named designs there is moreover a marked advance in executive skill. The artist's ambition, bounded at first by engraving on copper, was growing wider. He had begun to attend the private art school on the east side of James Street, Covent Garden, established as far back as 1724 by Sir James Thornhill, a fact with which Hogarth's detestation of Sir James's rival, Kent, may perhaps be connected, and he was beginning to dream of success as a painter. In 1727–8 he undertook to execute a design on canvas representing the ‘Element of Earth’ for one Joshua Morris, a tapestry-worker. But Morris, having subsequently been told that Hogarth was ‘an engraver and no painter,’ endeavoured to shuffle out of the commission, whereupon the artist took the case into court, gaining his suit (28 May 1728). Possibly it is due to the considerations arising out of this incident that he now turned his thoughts more deliberately in the direction of oils. At all events about this time, i.e. 1728–9, we find him painting ‘small conversation-pieces from twelve to fifteen inches high.’ These were groups of family portraits connected by some common interest or occupation, and ‘having novelty,’ he says, ‘succeeded for a few years.’ Among the earlier works executed before 1732 may be mentioned ‘The Wanstead Assembly,’ ‘The Committee of the House of Commons examining Bambridge, an infamous Warden of the Fleet Prison’ [see Bambridge, Thomas]; several scenes from the ‘Beggar's Opera;’ a little portrait of Mr. Tibson, a laceman in the Strand, entitled ‘The Politician;’ and a scene from Dryden's ‘Indian Emperor,’ as performed by certain ‘children of quality’ at the house of Mr. Conduit, the master of the mint. A list by himself, including some of these, is printed by John Ireland (iii. 23). His activity as a designer and engraver during this period is less marked. Between 1727 and 1732 his efforts were chiefly frontispieces, e.g. to Leveridge's ‘Songs,’ 1727; to Thomas Cooke's ‘Hesiod,’ 1728; to James Miller's comedy of the ‘Humours of Oxford,’ 1729; to Theobald's ‘Perseus and Andromeda,’ 1730; to Molière; to Fielding's ‘Tragedy of Tragedies,’ 1731 (which perhaps indicates the beginning of his friendship with that author); and to Mitchell's ‘Highland Fair,’ 1731. But the only original satirical prints for this date are the so-called ‘Large Masquerade Ticket,’ 1727, a satire upon Heidegger's popular entertainments, and ‘Taste’ (or the ‘Man of Taste,’ or ‘Burlington Gate’), 1731, prompted by Pope's ‘Epistle to Lord Burlington’ attacking the Duke of Chandos, for whom Hogarth took up the cudgels. Two other doubtful works, a burlesque on the ‘Beggar's Opera,’ and a plate entitled ‘Rich's Glory, or his Triumphant Entry into Covent Garden,’ complete the list. Its brevity suggests that he had other occupations; but he had also satisfied himself that working for the booksellers was not the way to fortune. Moreover he had discovered that his original designs speedily became the prey of the pirate. For example, copies of his ‘Masquerade Ticket,’ he tells us, were sold at half price, while the original impressions were returned upon his hands.
Sir James Thornhill had been one of his witnesses in the Morris suit, and Hogarth and he were apparently on terms of considerable intimacy. This was interrupted by a stolen match between Hogarth and Sir James's only daughter, Jane, a handsome young woman of nineteen or thereabouts. They were married privately on 23 March 1729, at old Paddington Church. Whether they took flight from Covent Garden, from Thornhill's house in Dean Street, Soho (No. 75), or from the little country box at Chiswick, which not long afterwards became Hogarth's own residence, is still debatable. But although she married against her father's will, for it was some time before he was reconciled to her, Jane Thornhill made an admirable wife. Her comely face appears in more than one of her husband's pictures (the ‘Sigismunda’ in the National Gallery is a portrait of her), and she cherished his memory after his death with a fidelity only rivalled by that of Mrs. Garrick for her David.
Of Hogarth's private life at this time, however, little is known. ‘Soon after his marriage,’ says Nichols, ‘he had summer-lodgings at South-Lambeth’ (Genuine Works, i. 46). It was doubtless while in this neighbourhood that he made the acquaintance of Jonathan Tyers, who shortly afterwards opened the ‘New Spring Gardens’ at Vauxhall with the famous ‘Ridotto al Fresco’ of June 1732, from which the real celebrity of that place of entertainment dates. Hogarth is said to have contributed to the success of the gardens by the—for an artist—very appropriate suggestion that they should be embellished by pictures, and many of those which afterwards decorated the old supper-boxes about the Grove were vaguely attributed to his brush. He certainly transferred to Tyers a painting of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, which had been engraved in 1729, three years before the gardens were formally opened, and this for a long time hung in the portico of the Rotunda. His later series, ‘The Four Times of the Day’ (1738), was also repeated for Vauxhall by Frank Hayman [q. v.], and something of his hand is to be detected in the contemporary prints of ‘Building Houses with Cards’ and ‘Mademoiselle Catherina’ (a dwarf). But more than one of the paintings which were declared to be by him when, in 1841, the Vauxhall properties were sold, e.g. ‘The Wapping Landlady’ and ‘Jobson and Nell in the Devil to Pay,’ are plainly given to Hayman in the prints of the time, and they, besides, resemble Hayman's work. What Hogarth undoubtedly did for Vauxhall was to design several of the pass-tickets, one of which, in gold, was presented to him by Tyers ‘in perpetuam Beneficii memoriam.’ It admitted ‘a coachful,’ and in 1808 was in the possession of his wife's cousin, Mary Lewis (Genuine Works, i. 47).
Shortly after Hogarth's marriage he must have set to work upon the paintings for the first of those ‘modern moral subjects,’ in which he aimed at ‘composing pictures on canvas, similar to representations on the stage’—in other words, at connecting a sequence of imaginary ‘conversation-pieces’ by a progressive story—‘a field,’ he further says, ‘not broken up in any country or any age.’ Borrowing a hint from Bunyan, he christened his first effort ‘A Harlot's Progress,’ and traced the career of his heroine from her first false step to her tragic end. From the date on her coffin in plate vi. (2 Sept. 1731), it has been conjectured that the paintings were completed not long after his marriage. According to the received tradition, their ability was instrumental in appeasing his still hostile father-in-law. Lady Thornhill, who from the first had been on the side of the runaways, caused them to be conveyed into her husband's dining-room. He eagerly inquired the artist's name, and on learning it, rejoined that the man who could furnish such representations could also maintain a wife without a portion—a speech which was the forerunner of reconciliation. Meanwhile, Hogarth began the engravings, and in March 1732 advertisements in the ‘Daily Journal’ and ‘Daily Post,’ repeated in subsequent numbers, announced that they were then printing, and would be delivered to subscribers (of whom there were soon some twelve hundred on the books) on 10 April following. The little subscription-ticket which he etched was entitled ‘Boys Peeping at Nature.’ When at length the set were issued they met with immediate success. Theophilus Cibber turned them into a pantomime, which was acted at Drury Lane in 1733; they were later made into a ballad-opera, entitled ‘The Jew Decoy'd,’ 1735, and they prompted a poem called ‘The Lure of Venus,’ 1732, by Joseph Gay (Captain J. D. Breval [q. v.]). Besides these they gave rise to endless squibs and pamphlets, and were freely transferred to fan-mounts and chinaware. Lastly they were shamelessly pirated. In November 1732 one E. Kirkall or Kirkhall, in particular, published a set of reversed mezzotint copies in green ink, with descriptive verses.
A few weeks after the issue of the prints of ‘A Harlot's Progress’ to the subscribers took place one of the rare incidents which brighten Hogarth's busy life. In May 1732 he set out with four companions—his brother-in-law, John Thornhill, Ebenezer Forrest [q. v.], an attorney, William Tothall, a draper in Tavistock Street, and Samuel Scott, the landscape-painter—on a five-days' jaunt from the Bedford Arms Tavern in Covent Garden to the Island of Sheppey. Their experiences, which were much those of a party of overgrown boys on a holiday, are recorded in a manuscript account by Forrest, with illustrations by Hogarth, Scott, and Thornhill, drawn up for the edification of the members of the Bedford Arms Club, and now in the print room of the British Museum. It is entitled ‘An Account of what seem'd most remarkable in the five days' peregrination of the five following persons, vizt Messieurs Tothall, Scott, Hogarth, Thornhill, and Forrest. Begun on Saturday, May the 27th, 1732, and finish'd on the 31st of the same month. Abi tu et fac similiter. Inscription on Dulwich Colledge Porch.’ This prose tour was afterwards turned into Hudibrastic verse by the Rev. William Gostling [q. v.], a minor canon of Canterbury Cathedral, and Nichols printed twenty copies of it in 1781. The original prose version, with facsimiles of the drawings, was published by R. Livesay in 1782. It is also to be found in the third volume of the ‘Genuine Works,’ 1817, pp. 113–31, and in September 1887 supplied the theme for a set of charming illustrations by Mr. Charles Green in the ‘Graphic’ newspaper, with text by Mr. Joseph Grego.
Towards the middle of 1732 Hogarth had lodgings at Isleworth (Genuine Works, i. 26). In 1733, according to the rate-books, he took a house, the last but two on the east side of Leicester Square, then Leicester Fields. Part of Archbishop Tenison's school now occupies its site, but it is distinguishable in contemporary prints, e.g. in those of Maurer and Bowles of 1753. Hogarth occupied it as a town residence until his death. It was known in those days of unnumbered houses as the Golden Head, its sign being a bust of Vandyck, which the painter had himself carved out of cork and gilded; and as it was rated to the poor in 1756 at 60l. per annum, must have been fairly commodious. In March 1733 he painted and engraved a portrait of Sarah Malcolm, the murderess, who was executed in Fleet Street on the 7th. It is a confirmation of his alleged reconciliation with his wife's father that Sir James Thornhill is said to have been present when the picture was painted. Thornhill died not long afterwards, in May 1734, but apparently before his son-in-law had yet become really famous, because in his obituary notice Hogarth is only spoken of as ‘admired for his curious Miniature Conversation Paintings.’ His death led to a modification of his drawing-school, to which Hogarth thus refers: ‘Sir James dying,’ he says, ‘I became possessed of his neglected apparatus; and thinking that an academy conducted on proper and moderate principles had some use, I proposed that a number of artists should enter into a subscription for the hire of a place large enough to admit of thirty or forty persons to draw after a naked figure. This was soon agreed to, and a room taken in St. Martin's Lane. … The academy has now,’ he says in 1762, ‘subsisted nearly thirty years; and is, to every useful purpose, equal to that in France, or any other’ (John Ireland, iii. 66, 69).
The engravings of ‘A Harlot's Progress’ were followed by the popular drinking-scene known as ‘A Midnight Modern Conversation,’ the advent of which had been heralded in 1732 by a little subscription-plate representing the rehearsal of William Huggins's oratorio of ‘Judith,’ and described as ‘A Chorus of Singers.’ But Hogarth was by this time already well advanced with a second ‘Progress,’ that of a rake. From an advertisement in the ‘Country Journal’ for 29 Dec. 1733, it is probable that the paintings, eight in number, were already finished, for he was busily engaged in transferring them to copper. The ticket for the subscription, then announced, was the admirable etching of ‘A pleased Audience at a Play,’ commonly called ‘The Laughing Audience,’ 1733. It was also the subscription-ticket to another plate, known popularly as ‘Southwark Fair,’ which was executed in 1733, but was kept back until 25 June 1735, for the same reason that deferred the issue of ‘A Rake's Progress.’
This was the coming into operation of the act 8 Geo. II, cap. 13, vesting in designers the exclusive right to their own designs. It is frequently spoken of as ‘Hogarth's Act,’ and was, in fact, the result of an appeal made to parliament by the artist and his colleagues to protect them against piracy. As already stated, ‘A Harlot's Progress’ had been shamelessly copied, and before he could complete the plates of ‘A Rake's Progress,’ the fraudulent imitator, under pretence of viewing the original pictures at the artist's house, where they were exhibited, had contrived to carry away enough to enable him to put forth plagiarised copies (Genuine Works, 1808, i. 82–5). The above-mentioned act, which came into force on 24 June, to a great extent remedied the evil at which it was levelled, and with this originates the ‘Published as the Act directs,’ now so familiar upon engravings. Hogarth commemorated his success by a jubilant inscription on a plate entitled ‘Crowns, Mitres,’ &c., afterwards used as a subscription-ticket to a later series; and, as a further blow at the pirate, he authorised the sale of reduced copies of ‘A Rake's Progress’ by a Fleet Street printseller, Mr. Bakewell. His minor prints for 1734 are unimportant, being confined to a frontispiece for Henry Carey's ‘Chrononhotonthologos,’ and a print of Cuzzoni, Farinelli, and Heidegger. But in 1735 an engraver named Sympson engraved one of his paintings, the subject of which was ‘A Woman swearing a Child to a grave Citizen.’ In 1735 also he lost his mother, long his near neighbour in St. Martin's Lane. She died of fright caused by a fire which broke out in June of that year in Cecil Court (Gent. Mag. v. 333).
By this time the circulation and imitation of Hogarth's ‘pictur'd Morals’ had considerably extended his reputation. Vincent Bourne of Westminster wrote him hendecasyllabics; Somerville dedicated ‘Hobbinol’ to him; Swift, in the terrible ‘Legion Club’ of 1736, apostrophised him as ‘hum'rous Hogart;’ and he was shortly to receive from a more congenial spirit, the author of ‘Joseph Andrews,’ the noble commendation that his figures did more than seem to breathe, ‘they appeared to think.’ Yet, by a curious perversion of ambition, his desires for distinction lay rather in the direction of history-painting as practised by Thornhill and Hayman, than in that ‘cast of style’ which he had so successfully followed. His own words here best explain his views. ‘Before I had done anything of much consequence in this walk,’ he says (and by ‘this walk’ he must be understood to refer to one or both of the ‘Progresses’), ‘I entertained some hopes of succeeding in what the puffers in books call the great style of history-painting; so that, without having had a stroke of this grand business before, I quitted small portraits and familiar conversations, and, with a smile at my own temerity, commenced history-painter, and on a great staircase at St. Bartholomew's Hospital painted two Scripture stories, the “Pool of Bethesda” and the “Good Samaritan,” with figures seven feet high. These I presented to the Charity, and thought they might serve as a specimen to show that were there an inclination in England for encouraging historical pictures, such a first essay might prove the painting them more easily attainable than is generally imagined. But as religion, the great promoter of this style in other countries, rejected it in England, I was unwilling to sink into a portrait manufacturer; and, still ambitious of being singular, dropped all expectations of advantage from that source, and returned to the pursuit of my former dealings with the public at large’ (John Ireland, iii. 29–31).
The date of the ‘Pool of Bethesda’ and the ‘Good Samaritan,’ still to be seen upon the staircase at St. Bartholomew's, is 1736. As may be inferred from the foregoing quotation, the public did not accept these works at the painter's valuation, and they were not engraved until some years after his death. Between ‘A Rake's Progress’ and his next great tragic drama, the ‘Marriage à-la-Mode,’ he executed nothing very important, though for some time before April 1745, when the engravings of that series appeared, he must have been occupied in elaborating the original oils. But one or two of the more popular of his smaller works belong to this decade. The delightful little print of ‘The Distrest Poet’ (3 March), ‘The Company of Undertakers; or a Consultation of Physicians’ (same date), and ‘The Sleeping Congregation’ (26 Oct.), all belong to 1736. In 1738 (25 March) appeared ‘The Four Times of the Day,’ already referred to as having been repeated by Hayman for the alcoves at Vauxhall Gardens, and the admirable ‘Strolling Actresses dressing in a Barn.’ They were followed in 1741 (30 Nov.) by ‘The Enraged Musician,’ the plate of which, says Fielding (Voyage to Lisbon, 1755, p. 50), is ‘enough to make a man deaf to look at.’ Besides these works, Hogarth at the same period painted portraits of Captain Coram of the Foundling Hospital, 1739; of Frances, lady Byron; of Martin Folkes, president of the Royal Society, 1741; of Dr. Benjamin Hoadly, bishop of Winchester; and of Gustavus, viscount Boyne. A ticket for Fielding's benefit in ‘Pasquin,’ 25 April 1736, some plates for Jarvis's ‘Don Quixote,’ and one or two more or less doubtful caricatures complete the list for 1735–44. The portrait of Coram and a little headpiece (‘The Foundlings’) to a power of attorney which he executed for the Foundling Hospital in 1739, testify to his active interest in the establishment of that famous charity. He appears as a ‘governor and guardian’ in its charter of incorporation, and he aided it with his money, his graver, and his brush. With him, it is said, originated the proposal to decorate it with pictures, a suggestion which not only made it a fashionable morning lounge under George II, but is even credited with the honour of suggesting indirectly the later establishment of the Royal Academy.
Although, as we have seen, Hogarth's prints did not want for purchasers, his original pictures remained unsold. Early in 1745, ‘still,’ to use his own phrase, ‘ambitious of being singular,’ he disposed of them by an auction of his own devising, the details of which are given in the ‘Genuine Works,’ 1808, i. 116–18. The ticket to view them at the Golden Head was as original as the scheme of sale. Already, à propos of some aspersions which had been cast upon his late father-in-law's paintings at Greenwich Hospital, he had printed in the ‘St. James's Evening Post’ of 7 June 1737 an energetic protest against the sham masterpieces—‘the Holy Families, Madonnas, and other dismal dark subjects’—which the picture-jobbers of his day so persistently imported from the continental ‘high art’ factories; and in the ‘Battle of the Pictures,’ by which he invited the attention of purchasers to his own performances, he depicts a spirited engagement between the ‘black masters,’ as he styled them, and the Hogarthian forces—a conflict in which, as may be guessed, the latter are easily victorious. But the traditions of connoisseurship were, nevertheless, too much against the independent satirist, and his unique gallery brought miserable prices. ‘A Harlot's Progress’ fetched 88l. 4s.; ‘A Rake's Progress’ 184l. 16s.; ‘The Strolling Actresses’ 27l. 6s.; and ‘The Four Times of the Day’ 127l. 1s.; making for nineteen pieces but a total of 427l. 7s. With every allowance for the eccentricity of the artist, and the unconventional character of the transaction, the amount realised is still difficult to comprehend.
We are now nearing his greatest work. In April 1743 he had advertised the forthcoming engravings of the famous ‘Marriage à-la-Mode,’ and in the ‘Battle of the Pictures’ he had given a hint of the same series by exhibiting one of them viciously assaulted by a copy of the ‘Aldobrandini Marriage.’ His announcement laid stress upon the fact that in these ‘modern occurrences in high life,’ care would be taken ‘that there may not be the least objection to the decency or elegancy of the whole work, and that none of the characters represented shall be personal,’ an assurance which seems to imply that objections on these grounds had been taken to some of his former efforts. The plates, six in number, were issued in April 1745, the subscription-ticket being the etching called ‘Characters and Caricaturas.’ In accordance with the artist's promise, they were ‘engrav'd by the best masters in Paris,’ G. Scotin executing plates i. and vi., B. Baron plates ii. and iii., and S. E. Ravenet plates iv. and v. Fifty years later (1795–1800) they were again reproduced in mezzotint by B. Earlom. For a description of this excellent social study the reader must go to the commentators; or, better still, to the paintings themselves, which, fortunately, have found a final asylum in the National Gallery. As in the case of the previous series, Hogarth, unwarned by experience, again resorted to an auction after his own fashion, in order to dispose of the original canvases. The bidding was to be by written tickets, and the highest bidder at noon on 6 June 1751 was to be the purchaser. Picture dealers were rigorously excluded. The result of these sagacious arrangements was disastrous, only one bidder, a Mr. Lane of Hillingdon, near Uxbridge, putting in an appearance. The highest offer having been announced as 120l., Mr. Lane made it guineas, at the same time magnanimously offering the artist some hours' delay to find a better purchaser. No one else presented himself, and Mr. Lane became the possessor of the artist's best work, and the finest pictorial satire of the century, for the modest sum of 126l., which included ‘Carlo Maratti frames’ that had cost Hogarth four guineas apiece. It may be added that the plates were described in Hudibrastic verse in 1746; that they prompted Dr. John Shebbeare's novel of the ‘Marriage Act’ in 1754; and that they are credited by the authors with suggesting Colman and Garrick's farce of the ‘Clandestine Marriage’ in 1766. Hogarth also meditated a companion series depicting ‘A Happy Marriage.’ But after some tentative essays, he abandoned his project, doubtless because the subject presented too little scope for his peculiar qualities.
Besides the ‘Marriage à-la-Mode,’ the only work for 1745 is the subscription-ticket (‘Mask and Palette’) for the portrait of ‘Mr. Garrick in the Character of Richard III,’ which Hogarth engraved with Grignion, and issued on 20 June 1746. For this painting Mr. Duncombe of Duncombe Park in Yorkshire paid him 200l., a price which compares favourably with the paltry amount realised by the tragedy of the Squanderfields. To the next few years belong one or two of his most notable portraits. In August 1746 he etched a characteristic likeness of Simon Fraser, lord Lovat, when that cunning and impenitent old Jacobite halted at St. Albans on his way to London for trial; and in the following year appeared a plate by Baron after his portrait of James Gibbs [q. v.], the famous architect. Last, engraved by his own hand, comes in 1749 his admirable likeness of himself and his dog Trump, one of the most successful of his works. Among his miscellaneous efforts are ‘Taste in High Life’ (24 May 1746), after a picture he had painted on commission in 1742; ‘Industry and Idleness’ (30 Sept. 1747), a set of twelve plates illustrating the contrasted careers of two Spitalfields apprentices, Frank Goodchild and Tom Idle; and the clever little ‘Stage Coach, or Country Inn Yard’ (1747), which might be an illustration to Smollett or Fielding. Besides these there are ‘O the Roast Beef of Old England, &c., or The Gate of Calais’ (6 March 1749), in the engraving of which he was assisted by C. Mosley; the famous ‘Representation of the March of the Guards towards Scotland in the year 1745’ (30–1 Dec. 1750), engraved by Luke Sullivan, and known more familiarly as ‘The March to Finchley;’ the pair of plates called ‘Beer Street’ and ‘Gin Lane;’ and the ‘Four Stages of Cruelty.’ It is not quite certain that these last six plates, all of which are dated 1 Feb. 1751, were engraved by Hogarth himself, as the inscription upon them is not explicit. But with the ‘Four Stages of Cruelty’ is connected an interesting experiment in the then dormant art of engraving on wood. In view of their circulation among the poorer classes, to whom their lesson was more especially addressed, an attempt was made to reproduce them in this way. It was abandoned because, upon trial, the process was found more expensive than reproduction upon metal. The third and fourth plates were, however, actually executed on wood in 1750 by J. Bell, and they are now exceedingly rare. They show that Hogarth's bold drawing upon the block, even in its rough knife-cut facsimile, has a vigour which is wanting in the copper, and they suggest that, even in his own graver-work, more was lost than one is accustomed to believe. Another ‘wooden-cut’ which belongs to this period was a rude headpiece for Fielding's ‘Jacobite's Journal’ (1747), and among lesser efforts may be mentioned ‘Hymen and Cupid’ (1748), a ticket for Mallet and Thomson's masque of ‘Alfred;’ a little etching of the house at Chiswick of the artist's neighbour and the king's serjeant-surgeon, Mr. Ranby; and in 1752 two more historical paintings, ‘Moses brought to Pharaoh's Daughter’ and ‘Paul before Felix.’ The former of these was engraved by Hogarth and Luke Sullivan. It is a significant commentary upon their merit that a coarse burlesque of ‘Paul before Felix,’ which Hogarth ‘design'd and scratch'd in the true Dutch taste,’ is far more sought after by collectors than the ambitious plates for which it served as subscription-ticket.
By this time (1752) Hogarth was fifty-four, and he had done his best work. As a pictorial satirist of the first order he was now universally accepted and feared. That he would add to his reputation was unlikely; it was essential only that he should not lessen it. Yet it is characteristic of his adventurous energy that he selected this precise moment of his career to seek fresh honours in new and untried fields. He wrote an ambitious treatise ‘to fix the fluctuating ideas of Taste,’ and he deliberately backed himself against his enemies, the ‘black masters,’ on their own ground. In the ‘Analysis of Beauty,’ which he published in December 1753, taking for his text a serpentine line which he had drawn upon a palette in the corner of his own portrait of 1745, he professed to define the principles of beauty and grace. Dr. Benjamin Hoadly, M.D., the Rev. James Townley of Merchant Taylors' School and ‘High Life below Stairs,’ Ralph of the ‘Champion,’ Dr. T. Morell of Chiswick, and other friends seem to have assisted in preparing the book—a combination of counsel not entirely to the profit of the work. Hogarth undoubtedly knew more than he could express or his friends could interpret, and the result was certainly not conspicuous for order or lucidity. His enemies, and his independent and aggressive character had gained him many, fell joyously upon his literary lapses and occasional incoherencies, while the mob of caricaturists, only too glad of the opportunity, diverted themselves hugely with ‘Painter Pugg’ and his ungainly Graces. The satirist was now himself satirised, and, like most of his race, he was only too vulnerable. The list of these performances will be found at length in vol. iii. pt. ii. of Mr. F. G. Stephens's ‘Catalogue of Satirical Prints and Drawings’ in the British Museum (see Nos. 3238 et seq.). Some admiring critics of course he had. Ralph declared that ‘composition is at last become a science; the student knows what he is in search of; the connoisseur what to praise; and fancy and fashion, or prescription, will usurp the hacknied name of taste no more;’ and friendly Sylvanus Urban put Hogarth into the introductory verses to his volume of 1754. The work was translated into German in the same year by Christlob Mylius, into Italian at Leghorn in 1761, and in 1805 into French by Talleyrand's librarian, Jansen. Of late years it has not been found necessary to reprint the book; but the two large chart-plates prepared by the artist to illustrate it, one of which has for its central design a ‘Statuary's Yard’ and the other a ‘Country Dance,’ continue to be sought after. More popular still is the little etching of ‘Columbus breaking the Egg,’ which was prepared as the subscription-ticket. Between the ‘Analysis’ and Hogarth's next unfortunate experiment comes the whimsical frontispiece to Kirby's ‘Perspective’ (1753), cleverly embodying all the errors in that science of which ignorance could possibly be guilty, and even including a few that it could scarcely have committed. To this, heralded by the already-mentioned ticket entitled ‘Crowns, Mitres,’ &c., followed in 1755–8 the admirable ‘Election Series,’ four large plates engraved by Hogarth, C. Grignion, Morellon Le Cave, and F. Aviline. They are entitled separately ‘An Election Entertainment’ (24 Feb. 1755), ‘Canvassing for Votes’ (20 Feb. 1757), ‘Polling’ (20 Feb. 1758), and ‘Chairing the Members’ (1 Jan. 1758), and taken seriatim give a vivid idea of electioneering humours in the old rough-and-tumble, bribery-and-corruption days of the second George. A further pair of prints was prompted by the rumours of invasion current in 1756, when Hogarth came to the aid of patriotism with two rapidly executed plates, in one of which, ‘England,’ the natives of this island were represented as eagerly awaiting the descent of the invaders, while in the other, ‘France,’ the famished subjects of the Grand Monarque exhibit a most pitiful reluctance to embark upon their enterprise. ‘The Bench’ (1758) and ‘The Cockpit’ (5 Nov. 1759), the latter of which depicted, probably at its home in Birdcage Walk, a popular eighteenth-century pastime, with ‘The Five Orders of Periwigs’ (15 Oct. 1761) and a couple of frontispieces to vols. ii. and iv. of ‘Tristram Shandy,’ are the only other plates which require present mention. But Hogarth had not yet relinquished his aspirations after high art, and in 1756 executed for the altarpiece at St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, a set of sacred subjects, the ‘Sealing of the Sepulchre,’ the ‘Ascension,’ and the ‘Three Maries.’ These three pictures, for which he received the sum of 500l., are now in the Fine Arts Academy at Clifton.
On 6 June 1757 Hogarth was appointed serjeant-painter of all his majesty's works, succeeding his brother-in-law, John Thornhill, who resigned that office. He entered upon his duties on 16 July, and his nominal salary was 10l., but with ‘fees, liveries, profits,’ and the like, it came to about 200l. per annum. At this time he seems to have decided to confine himself to portrait-painting; but two years later he announced once more that he should quit the pencil for the graver, one of his chief reasons being that the retouching and repairing of his many plates was already becoming a laborious task. Before he bade a final adieu to the brush Lord Charlemont persuaded him to execute another picture. This was that known indifferently as ‘Picquet,’ or ‘The Lady's Last Stake,’ or ‘Virtue in Danger,’ one of the most attractive of his lesser works. It was engraved by Thomas Cheesman in 1825. Its popularity as a picture led to a further commission from Sir Richard (afterwards Lord) Grosvenor, the choice of subject being left as before to the artist. He selected Boccaccio's (or rather Dryden's) Sigismunda weeping over the heart of her murdered husband, Guiscardo, his object being to rival a so-called Correggio (it was really a Furini) with the same title, which had been sold at Sir Luke Schaub's sale in 1758 for 400l. Hogarth valued his ‘Sigismunda’ at no less. He took immense pains with it, and probably too much advice. When it was finished, Sir Richard, who would have preferred a humorous or satirical genre piece, rather meanly shuffled out of his bargain. The picture in consequence, greatly to the painter's mortification, remained upon his hands, and was not sold until his widow's death, when it was purchased by the Boydells for fifty-six guineas. What was worse, both the transaction and the work gave rise to much vexatious comment, and ‘Sigismunda,’ whose lineaments, as already stated, were those of Mrs. Hogarth, was frankly and even brutally criticised. To prove its merit Hogarth arranged to have it engraved, but the matter never, during his lifetime, advanced beyond an etching in outline by Basire and a subscription-ticket by himself. The latter, ‘Time smoking a Picture’ (1761), is one of the happiest of its class, and has for its English motto two quotations from an ‘Epistle to a Friend, occasioned by my picture of Sigismunda,’ of which, with the aid of Paul Whitehead, the painter delivered himself.
To Nature and your Self appeal
Nor learn of others, what to feel,
is one of these. The whole poem, if such it may be called, is to be found in the ‘Genuine Works,’ 1808, i. 322, and also at p. 281 of the ‘Anecdotes’ of J. B. Nichols, 1833. ‘Sigismunda’ was mezzotinted in 1793 (1 Feb.) by Robert Dunkarton, and engraved in line by B. Smith, 4 June 1795. The original picture and that of the ‘Lady's Last Stake’ were exhibited at the Spring Gardens exhibition of 1761. For the ‘Catalogue’ of this Hogarth executed a head-and tail-piece, both of which were engraved by Grignion. The former was a bid for the royal patronage of art; the latter, a monkey with an eyeglass watering some withered exotics, a supplementary blow at those travelled and unenlightened virtuosi who cherished the lifeless ‘black masters’ and neglected the living ‘Marriage à-la-Mode.’
With 1761 we are within three years of Hogarth's death, and the chronicle of his work grows scanter. A second portrait of himself, which he executed and engraved in 1758, had shown him to be already an older and sadder man, although, faithful to his past, he is engaged in ‘painting the Comic Muse.’ In March 1762 he issued the plate known as ‘Credulity, Superstition, and Fanaticism, a Medley,’ which was an adaptation, more closely directed at the methodists, from an earlier design of wider scope, entitled ‘Enthusiasm Delineated.’ A few copies of this first thought were struck off before the artist re-engraved the plate, and they show that, probably in deference to criticism, Hogarth converted what was a compact composition into a desultory pictorial hotch-pot which, despite the assertion of Horace Walpole that it is the ‘most sublime of his works for useful and deep satire,’ is not now regarded as ranking among the triumphs of his imagination. And so we come to the last notable events in his career, the publication of the political print called ‘The Times’ (plate i.), and his quarrel with Wilkes and Churchill.
Long before the death of George II, Hogarth is supposed to have enjoyed the favour of Lord Bute. But he had nevertheless wisely withheld himself from faction. In 1762, however, an evil genius prompted him to do some ‘timed’ thing in the ministerial interest. The very announcement of his purpose should have warned him of the danger of this step, for it at once brought him into collision with Wilkes and Wilkes's ‘led-captain,’ Churchill the satirist, both of whom had hitherto been his personal associates. Wilkes forthwith threatened reprisals; Hogarth refused to desist; and in these circumstances, on 7 Sept. 1762, ‘The Times, Plate i.,’ came out. It was a laboured and confused performance, though not without true Hogarthian touches. On the Saturday after its appearance, Wilkes, as he had promised, retorted by a savage ‘North Briton,’ No. 17, attacking the painter at all his most assailable points. The alleged failure of his powers, the miscarriage of ‘Sigismunda,’ the obscurities of the ‘Analysis,’ were successively discussed with the merciless malignity of an adversary who had grown familiar with his opponent's foibles in the unrestrained intercourse of private life. There is little doubt that Hogarth was deeply wounded. ‘Being,’ he tells us, ‘at that time very weak, and in a kind of slow fever, it could not but seize on a feeling mind.’ A touching instance of this is supplied by an item in Mr. H. P. Standly's catalogue. It was a worn copy of the paper containing Wilkes's diatribes, given long afterwards by Mrs. Hogarth to Ireland, which the painter had ‘carried in his pocket many days to show his friends.’ But he was not hurt to the death, as Wilkes profanely hoped, and told Lord Temple.
In the following year (16 May) he recovered sufficiently to take his revenge by depicting Wilkes in that famous portrait which will carry his satyr leer and hideous squint to remote posterity. Upon this Churchill, who had already been meditating action, took up the cudgels for his friend in ‘An Epistle to William Hogarth’ (July), which was as clever as it was cold-blooded and cruel. It promptly elicited from the painter another caricature (1 Aug.), entitled ‘The Bruiser, C. Churchill (once the Reverend!), in the character of a Russian Hercules regaling himself after having killed the monster Caricatura, that so severely galled his virtuous friend, the heaven-born Wilkes.’ The ‘Russian Hercules’ was a bear in torn bands hugging a club, the knots of which were inscribed ‘Lye 1, Lye 2,’ &c., and he was ‘regaling himself’ with a quart pot of porter. To a later issue Hogarth added some supplementary details. ‘The pleasure and pecuniary advantage,’ he says, ‘which I derived from these two engravings [of Wilkes and Churchill], together with occasionally riding on horseback, restored me to as much health as can be expected at my time of life.’
In 1762 he prepared, but did not issue, a second plate of ‘The Times.’ It ultimately appeared in 1790 (29 May), when it was published by Messrs. Boydell. His only remaining efforts are the well-known etching of Fielding, executed from memory for Arthur Murphy's edition (1762) of that writer's works, a portrait of Dr. Morell, who had assisted him in the ‘Analysis,’ and a frontispiece to the Rev. John Clubbe's ‘Phisiognomy,’ 1763. His final plate was the graphic epilogue to his collected prints entitled ‘The Bathos; or Manner of Sinking in Sublime Paintings, inscribed to the Dealers in Dark Pictures’ (3 March 1764), a curious assemblage of ‘fag-ends’ suggested by some premonition of his approaching death. After this, with the exception of some finishing strokes to the plate of ‘The Bench,’ he never again touched pencil, brush, or graver. On 25 Oct. he was conveyed from his house at Chiswick to Leicester Fields, very weak, yet remarkably cheerful, and, says Nichols (Genuine Works, 1808, i. 386–8), ‘receiving an agreeable letter from the American Dr. Franklin, drew up a rough draught of an answer to it; but going to bed, he was seized with a vomiting, upon which he rung his bell with such violence that he broke it, and expired about two hours afterwards in the arms of Mrs. Mary Lewis, who was called up on his being taken suddenly ill.’ He was buried in Chiswick churchyard, where, in 1771, a monument was erected to him by his friends, with an epitaph by Garrick as follows:
Farewel, 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.
A variation of this by Dr. Johnson is sometimes quoted as if it had been a rival attempt:
The Hand of Art here torpid lies
That traced the essential form of Grace:
Here Death has closed the curious eyes
That saw the manners in the face.
That it was not a rival attempt is clear from a letter from Johnson to Garrick, dated 12 Dec. 1771, and printed in Croker's ‘Boswell,’ 1860, p. 225. Johnson's quatrain was only a suggested emendation of the first form of Garrick's verses.
By his will, dated 16 Aug. 1764, Hogarth left all his property, which consisted mainly of his engraved plates, to his wife. She continued to reside when in town at the Golden Head with the above-named Mary Lewis, and to sell her husband's prints. Richard Livesay, the portrait-painter and engraver, was one of her lodgers there. Cheesman, the engraver, was another, and the Scotch artist, Alexander Runciman [q. v.] When the sale of the prints declined, as, notwithstanding that the copyright had been secured to her personally for twenty years by special act of parliament, it gradually did, her failing income was assisted by a pension of 40l. from the Royal Academy. Old inhabitants of Chiswick long remembered the once handsome Jane Thornhill, transformed by advancing years into a stately and venerable lady, dressed in a silk sacque, raised headdress, and black calash, whom a faithful and equally ancient man-servant wheeled regularly in her Bath-chair to Chiswick Church. She died 13 Nov. 1789, being then eighty years of age, and was buried by her husband's side. There are several portraits of her. One by Hogarth, taken when she was about five-and-thirty, was exhibited by Mr. H. B. Mildmay at the Grosvenor Gallery in the summer of 1888. A lock of her hair is preserved in the manuscripts department of the British Museum. Mary Lewis, her cousin, to whom she left her property, shortly afterwards, in consideration of a life-annuity of 250l., transferred her right in the plates to Alderman Boydell.
Of Hogarth's two houses, that in Leicester Fields, as already stated, now no longer exists; but it was inhabited after Mrs. Hogarth's death by the Pole, Thaddeus Kosciusko, and by Byron's friend, the Countess Guiccioli (Memorable London Houses, 1890, p. 3). The little red-brick ‘country box by the Thames,’ much altered for the worse as to its environment, still stands in the lane leading from the Duke's Avenue towards Chiswick Church. One of the post-Hogarthian tenants was the Rev. H. F. Cary [q. v.], the translator of Dante, who between 1814 and 1826 held the curacy of Chiswick. A later resident was a transpontine actor, known popularly as ‘Brayvo’ Hicks. An old mulberry-tree, the fruit of which was formerly the occasion of an annual festival to the children of the neighbourhood, still stands in the once well-ordered and nightingale-haunted garden, but of the filbert avenue, where the painter was wont to play nine-pins, there is no discernible sign. The outbuildings at the end of the garden have long been pulled down, and two quaint little tombstones to a dog and bullfinch, the latter of which was said to have been scratched by Hogarth himself, only exist now in the sketch made of them, circa 1848, by Mr. F. W. Fairholt for Mrs. S. C. Hall's ‘Pilgrimages to English Shrines.’ One of the upper rooms of the house, conspicuous by its overhanging bay-window, is conjectured to be that represented in ‘Picquet, or Virtue in Danger.’ In this case, its size in the picture must be considerably exaggerated. It is matter for congratulation that this interesting relic has recently (1890) been purchased by Mr. Alfred Dawson, an old resident in Chiswick, who proposes to restore and preserve it as a relic of the painter. Meanwhile various sketches of the house and tomb are in existence, e.g. in the ‘Pictorial World,’ 26 Sept. 1874, ‘Graphic,’ 14 Nov. 1874, ‘Magazine of Art,’ December 1882 (two admirable sketches by Frank Murray), and ‘Century Magazine,’ June 1886. A sketch by Mr. Charles J. Staniland in the ‘Illustrated London News’ for 18 Oct. 1873 shows the garden as it was during Mr. Hicks's tenancy and before it had been subjected to the questionable ‘improvements’ of its latest proprietors. There is also an excellent representation of the mulberry-tree by Mr. C. Graham in ‘Harper's Magazine’ for August 1888. In 1856 the tomb was repaired by an enthusiastic namesake of the painter, William Hogarth of Aberdeen, and of late years it has again been cleaned and renovated upon the occasion of the restoration and enlargement of Chiswick Church.
The chief of the portraits of William Hogarth is that by himself in the National Gallery, for which it was purchased in 1824 with the Angerstein collection. He painted it in 1745, and, as already stated, engraved it four years later. It was again engraved by B. Smith on 4 June 1795. Angerstein bought it at Mrs. Hogarth's death. It was ‘an old plate’ of this picture which Hogarth used in 1763 for the caricature of ‘The Bruiser’ (Churchill). A small version of this portrait was exhibited by Mr. John Leighton, F.S.A., at the English Humourists' Exhibition, 1889. Another portrait by the artist himself, which also once belonged to his widow, is now in the National Portrait Gallery. Hogarth engraved it (in part) in 1758, retouching it in 1764. He also appears with Garrick in Mr. Addington's picture of ‘Garrick in the Green Room,’ which was exhibited at the Old Masters in 1880. Other likenesses are the head in a hat from the ‘Gate of Calais;’ the oval head begun by Weltdon and finished by Hogarth; the head in a tie-wig prefixed to vol. i. of Samuel Ireland's ‘Graphic Illustrations;’ and the woodcut with a pipe in Walpole's ‘Anecdotes’ (ed. Major). In the National Portrait Gallery there is a bust in terra-cotta by Roubiliac. Hogarth also painted portraits of his sisters Mary and Ann (which in 1879 were in the possession of Mr. R. C. Nichols, the son of Mr. J. B. Nichols, Hogarth's commentator of 1833); of Sir James Thornhill, his wife, and their son John; of Mary Lewis, and of his six servants. Besides these there is a portrait in the National Gallery of Mary Hogarth, dated 1746. When she died is not known, although she preceded her brother; but her sister Ann survived until 13 Aug. 1771, when she was buried in Hogarth's grave at Chiswick.
It was claimed for Hogarth, in Johnson's variation upon Garrick, that he saw the manners in the face, and his own portrait is the index of his character. The brisk, blue-eyed, manly, intelligent, and somewhat combative head with the scar over the right eye, which looks out from the canvas in the National Gallery, seems to accord completely with his verbal likeness as it has been handed down to us. He was, it is easy to believe, a sturdy, outspoken, honest, obstinate, pugnacious little man who, as one is glad to think, once pummelled a fellow soundly for maltreating the beautiful drummeress whom he drew in ‘Southwark Fair.’ As a companion he was witty and genial, and to those he cared for, thoroughly faithful and generous. He liked good clothes, good living, good order in his household, and he was proud of the rewards of industry and respectability. As a master he was exacting in his demands, but punctual in his payments; as a servant he did a full day's work, and insisted upon his wage. His prejudices, like those of most self-educated men, were strong, and he fought doggedly in defence of them without any attempt to conciliate his adversary. That he was not proof against flattery seems to have been true. In his own walk he had succeeded by a course of training which would have failed with nineteen men out of twenty, and he consequently underrated the teaching of all academies whatsoever. With the art patronage and connoisseurship of his day he was hopelessly at war; he saw in it only the fostering of foreign rubbish at the expense of native merit. But a great deal that has been said on the subject of his attitude to the continental schools of painting has been manifestly exaggerated, and in any circumstances something must be allowed for the warmth of controversy. An artist of Hogarth's parts could not be as insensible to the merits of the great masters as some have pretended. Yet it may well be conceived that such a downright and quick-tongued disputant, in his impatience of the parrot raptures of pretentious and incompetent persons, might easily come to utter ‘blasphemous expressions against the divinity even of Raphael Urbino, Correggio, and Michael Angelo.’ His true attitude towards them is disclosed in his words to Mrs. Piozzi. He was talking to her, late in life, of Dr. Johnson, whose conversation, he said, was to that of other men as Titian's painting compared to Hudson's; ‘but don't you tell people now, that I say so,’ continued he, ‘for the connoisseurs and I are at war, you know; and because I hate them, they think I hate Titian, and let them!’ (Anecdotes of Samuel Johnson, LL.D., ed. 1826, pp. 104–5).
Numerous other stories might be cited in illustration of this outline of Hogarth's character. Side by side with his general hatred of the foreigner was his particular hatred of the French, whom he never fails to ridicule in his works. ‘Calais Gate’ indeed owed its origin to a misadventure which his undisguised Gallophobia brought upon him. In 1749, after the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, he paid a brief visit to France with Hayman, Cheere, the sculptor, and some other friends. He did not set out prepared to admire, and he does not seem to have in the least concealed the contempt he felt for the ‘farcical pomp of war,’ the ‘pompous parade of religion,’ and ‘the much bustle with very little business’ which he discovered about him. His frankly expressed opinions speedily attracted attention, and when, at last, he was found sketching the English arms upon the famous old gate of Calais (now no longer standing), he was at once taken before the commandant for a spy, confined closely in his lodgings, and finally escorted, with scant ceremony, on shipboard for England. He revenged himself upon his return for this ignominious treatment by the picture of the ‘Gate of Calais,’ in which the gluttonous friars, the leathern-faced fishwomen, and the ‘lean, ragged, and tawdry soldiery’ were pilloried to his heart's content. Another well-worn anecdote may be quoted in illustration of his sturdy independence of character. Upon one occasion he painted a deformed nobleman, and drew his likeness faithfully. His sitter, who had anticipated flattery, declined to accept it. Thereupon Hogarth announced that if it were not removed within three days, it would, with certain uncomplimentary appendages, be disposed of to Mr. Hare, ‘the famous wild-beast man,’ a hint which at once brought about a settlement of his claim (Genuine Works, 1808, i. 25). A third story related by Nichols pleasantly exemplifies that pardonable vanity which was almost a natural consequence of his self-reliant nature. ‘Hogarth,’ says the narrator, ‘being at dinner with the great Cheselden, and some other company, was told that Mr. John Freke, surgeon of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, a few evenings before, at Dick's Coffee-house, had asserted that Greene was as eminent in composition as Handel. “That fellow Freke,” replied Hogarth, “is always shooting his bolt absurdly one way or another! Handel is a giant in music; Greene only a light Florimel kind of a composer.” “Ay,” says our artist's informant, “but at the same time Mr. Freke declared you were as good a portrait-painter as Vandyck.” “There he was in the right,” adds Hogarth, “and so I am, give me my time, and let me choose my subject”’ (ib. i. 237). He was often extremely absent-minded. Once, when he had gone to call upon the lord mayor, Beckford, in the fine coach which he set up in his later years, and for which Catton, the coach painter, designed the emblematical crest engraved by Livesay in 1782, he forgot all about it on leaving the house, and to the amazement of his wife arrived at home on foot, and drenched to the skin (ib. i. 216–17).
The list of Hogarthiana might easily be extended. With regard to some of the well-known stories, it will be well to cross-question their sources rather narrowly. Not a few of those which have a more than ordinarily malicious turn emanate from George Steevens, who, as Allan Cunningham says, ‘seems to have taken pleasure in mingling his own gall with the milk of his coadjutor's narrative.’ In the edition of 1808–17 the portions respectively supplied by the two commentators are distinguished, and it is manifest that all the more unfriendly comments and records belong not to Nichols, but to Steevens. The unmanly and indefensible attack of the latter (Biog. Anecdotes, 1785, pp. 113–14) upon Mary Lewis, whose only fault appears to have been her loyalty to her uncle's memory, is almost sufficient to disqualify him as a chronicler. Another critic who has been unduly harsh to certain aspects of Hogarth's character is Horace Walpole. From a clever letter to George Montagu, dated 5 May 1761, it is clear that, however he may have appreciated his powers as a pictorial satirist, Walpole ranked him as a man with the rest of those outsiders of fashion, the Fieldings, Goldsmiths, Johnsons, &c., whose misfortune it was to be born beyond the pale of his own patrician circle, and that, even in the domain of art, he resented his claim to be a colourist, a portrait-painter, or a critic.
With respect to the last-named qualification—as far at least as it is exemplified by ‘The Analysis’—the consensus of modern opinion would probably be in accord with Walpole. ‘The Analysis’ was the tour de force of a clever artist, whose gifts, as he himself admitted, lay more with the pencil than the pen. But when Dr. Morell and others, echoing Walpole and ‘the picture dealers, picture cleaners, picture-frame makers, and other connoisseurs’—to use Hogarth's scornful classification—declared that ‘colouring was not his forte,’ they did him imperfect justice. Since the first exhibition of his collected works in oil at the British Institution in 1814, his reputation as a mere layer of colours has been steadily increasing, and the reaction thus initiated has been enforced of late years by the appearance, in successive exhibitions at the Academy and elsewhere, of numerous portraits and pictures long buried in private collections. It is now admitted that his merits as a painter are unquestionable, that his tints are pure and harmonious, his composition perspicuous, and his manner, without being minute or finely finished, singularly dexterous and direct. Even the much-abused ‘Sigismunda’ is now held at present to be a far better work than would ever be suspected from the gross obloquy to which, owing to the circumstances of its production, it was exposed during the artist's lifetime. If it cannot be ranked (as he fondly hoped) with Correggio, it must at least be conceded that its scheme of colour is sound and its technical skill by no means contemptible.
As to his engravings they are so well known—so much better known even now than his paintings—that it sounds paradoxical to say that his work with the burin is less remarkable than are his efforts with the brush. And yet this is in reality a natural consequence of his peculiar qualities. His downright manner, his detestation of the indirect and the redundant, his very energy and vitality, all disqualified him from competing with the slow proficiency of such skilled craftsmen as Grignion and Basire. So much, indeed, he himself confesses. Beauty and elegance of execution, he plainly gives us to understand, demanded far more patience than he felt disposed to exercise, and he regarded the making of merely fine lines ‘as a barren and unprofitable study.’ ‘The fact is,’ he declares, ‘that the passions may be more forcibly exprest by a strong, bold stroke than by the most delicate engraving. To expressing them as I felt them, I have paid the utmost attention, and as they were addressed to hard hearts, have rather preferred leaving them hard, and giving the effect, by a quick touch, to rendering them languid and feeble by fine strokes and soft engraving, which require more care and practice than can often be attained, except by a man of a very quiet turn of mind’ (John Ireland, iii. 355). This is a transparent apology for what he knew to be the weaker side of his work, its lack of finish and haste of execution, while at the same time it invites attention to what were undoubtedly its special merits—its spirit, its vigour, its intelligibility. And it must not be forgotten that his prints have one inalienable advantage—they are autographs. Hogarth engraved by Hogarth must always claim precedence over Hogarth engraved by any one else.
But it is neither by his achievements as an engraver nor his merits as a painter that he retains his unique position among English artists. It is as a pictorial chronicler of life and manners, as a satirist and humourist on canvas, that he makes his main demand upon posterity. His skill in seizing upon the ridiculous and the grotesque in life was only equalled by his power of rendering the tragic and the terrible. And it was not only given to him to see unerringly and to select unfalteringly, but he added to this a special gift of narrative by action, which, looking to the fact that he has had so few worthy rivals, must of necessity be rare. Other artists have succeeded in single scenes of humorous genre, or in depicting isolated effects of horror and passion, but none, like Hogarth, has combined both with such signal ability, and carried them from one scene to another with such supreme dexterity as this painter, whom Walpole felicitously styles ‘a writer of comedy with a pencil.’ ‘A Harlot's Progress,’ ‘A Rake's Progress,’ the ‘Marriage à-la-Mode,’ the ‘Good and Idle Apprentices,’ are picture-dramas, as skilful in construction and as perfect in development as any play that was ever played. And if they are admirable in plot and movement, they are equally irreproachable in scene and costume. There is no actor on his stage, either splendid or squalid, but wears his fitting habit as he lived when Hogarth lived; there is no background, either of cellar or salon, which had not its exact prototype in Georgian England. Moreover, much that on the boards of a theatre would be expressed by gesture or byplay is conveyed or suggested in Hogarth's compositions by the wonderful eloquence of detail and significance of accessory which make his work so inexhaustible a field of fresh discoveries. The chairs and tables, the masks and fans, the swords and cudgels, have all their articulate message in the story; there is a sermon in a dial, a moral in a cobweb, a text in a paper of tobacco. This it is that makes so true the admirable utterance of his most sympathetic critic, Charles Lamb. ‘Hogarth's graphic representations,’ he says, ‘are indeed books; they have the teeming fruitful suggestive meaning of words. Other prints we look at, his prints we read.’ Nor are his works less notable for that abounding energy of movement upon which Hazlitt lays stress. ‘Everything in his [Hogarth's] pictures has life and motion in it. Not only does the business of the scene never stand still, but every feature and muscle is put into full play; the exact feeling of the moment is brought out, and carried to its utmost height, and then instantly seized and stamped on the canvas for ever. … Besides the excellence of each individual face, the reflection of the expression from face to face, the contrast and struggle of particular motives and feelings in the different actors in the scene, as of anger, contempt, laughter, compassion, are conveyed in the happiest and most lively manner. … He gives the extremes of character and expression, but he gives them with perfect truth and accuracy.’ It only remains to add that Hogarth's intention, like that of many of his contemporaries, was genuinely didactic. ‘Amidst all his pleasantry,’ says Walpole, ‘he observes the true end of comedy—reformation: there is always a moral to his pictures.’ It is possible that the moral was sometimes trite and obvious—‘written in rather too large letters after the fable,’ as Thackeray says—but there can be no doubt that it was sincere.
Fortunately for Hogarth's admirers, few, if any, of his more famous works have found their way out of his native country. The ‘Marriage à-la-Mode,’ ‘Sigismunda,’ ‘Lavinia Fenton,’ ‘The Shrimp Girl,’ a couple of conversation-pieces, and his portrait of himself and his dog are in the National Gallery. His full-length of himself ‘painting the Comic Muse’ and one of his sketches of Lord Lovat are in the National Portrait Gallery. At the Soane Museum are ‘A Rake's Progress’ and the ‘Election’ series; at the Foundling Hospital the ‘March to Finchley,’ ‘Moses brought to Pharaoh's Daughter,’ and ‘Captain Coram.’ The Society of Lincoln's Inn possesses ‘Paul before Felix;’ St. Bartholomew's Hospital, ‘The Pool of Bethesda,’ and ‘The Good Samaritan.’ At the Royal Society is the portrait of Martin Folkes; at the church of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields that of James Gibbs; at the Royal College of Surgeons, that of Sir C. Hawkins. To the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge belongs ‘Mr. and Miss Arnold of Ashby Lodge.’ Other examples of varied value are scattered in private collections. Her majesty the queen has ‘Garrick and his Wife’ and ‘A View of the Mall;’ the Duke of Westminster, ‘The Distressed Poet’ and ‘The Boy with a Kite;’ the Duke of Newcastle, ‘Southwark Fair;’ the Earl of Wemyss, Scene 2 in ‘A Harlot's Progress’ (the rest having been burnt at Fonthill in 1755); the Earl of Feversham, ‘Garrick as Richard III;’ the Earl of Carlisle, ‘The Committee of the House of Commons examining Bambridge;’ while the Duke of Leeds, Mr. John Murray, and Mr. Louis Huth have each examples of the ‘Beggar's Opera.’ Mr. Huth also possesses ‘The Lady's Last Stake.’ Besides these, Mr. R. Rankin has ‘The Sleeping Congregation;’ Lord Lansdowne, Sir Charles Tennant, and Mr. F. B. Henson, portraits of ‘Peg Woffington;’ and Lady Ashburton, ‘A View in St. James's Park.’ The catalogues of the Grosvenor Gallery for 1888 and 1889 and the successive catalogues of the winter exhibitions at the Royal Academy contain record of several other works which are, rightly or wrongly, attributed to Hogarth. It may be added that the ‘Apprentice’ series, the ‘Four Stages of Cruelty,’ ‘France’ and ‘England,’ and ‘Beer Street’ and ‘Gin Lane’ do not appear to have been painted, and that the picture of ‘The Strolling Actresses dressing in a Barn’ was burnt at Littleton in 1874.
Hogarth's prints, now grown somewhat too robust in character for the virtuosi of to-day, found many collectors in the century which followed his death. The variations which from time to time he made in the plates render the possession of certain ‘states’ of them an object of considerable solicitude to those concerned. Of these peculiarities few only can be here specified, and those solely as illustrations. For example, one impression of the ‘March to Finchley’ derives importance from the fact that it was by an oversight dated on a ‘Sunday’ (30 Dec. 1750), while a humbler value attaches to a later copy which has but a single s in the word ‘Prussia.’ The earliest state of the ‘Distrest Poet’ (1736) has a print of ‘Pope thrashing Curll’ in the background, for which in 1740 was substituted a ‘Map of the Gold Mines of Peru.’ Superior interest attaches to those copies of plate iii. of the ‘Four Times of the Day (Evening),’ in which the woman's face is printed in red, and the dyer's hands in blue, while in the most orthodox ‘Beer Street’ the blacksmith flourishes a Frenchman instead of a leg of mutton. In ‘Gin Lane’ a white-faced baby is the desirable element; in the ‘Enraged Musician’ a white horse; in the ‘Strolling Actresses’ it is Flora tallowing her hair when the feathers are already arranged in it. In the ‘Election’ series, the ‘Apprentice’ series, the ‘Marriage à-la-Mode,’ ‘A Rake's Progress,’ &c., there are also numerous differences which cannot in this place be enumerated. Full information with regard to them will, however, be found in the works of the Nicholses, elder and junior; in Stephens's ‘Catalogue of Satirical Prints in the British Museum,’ and in the sale catalogues of Horace Walpole, Gulston, George Baker, H. P. Standly, the Irelands, and others. It may be added that the original prices of the prints as sold by Mrs. Hogarth at the Golden Head were extremely moderate. From a list given by John Nichols it appears that the eight plates of ‘A Rake's Progress’ could be bought for 2l. 2s. This was the highest amount, the ‘Marriage à-la-Mode’ being 1l. 11s. 6d., ‘A Harlot's Progress,’ 1l. 1s., the ‘Apprentices,’ 12s., and the ‘March to Finchley,’ 10s. 6d. The rest varied from 7s. 6d. to 1s., and the entire collection was to be obtained bound up for thirteen guineas. Boydell, to whom, as already stated, the plates were transferred by Mary Lewis, reissued them in 1790 (110 plates); Baldwin and Cradock in 1822 (120 plates). In the latter issue the original coppers had been repaired and retouched by James Heath, associate engraver, R.A. There is a large and varied collection of Hogarth's engravings in the print room of the British Museum, the basis of which was the collection of Mr. William Packer of Bloomsbury, who sold it to the trustees before his death in 1828. The valuable collection of George Steevens is at Felbrigge Hall, near Cromer, in Norfolk. It was left by Steevens at his death in 1800 to the Right Hon. William Windham (d. 4 June 1810). A list of some of the more notable collectors of Hogarth's works is given in J. B. Nichols's ‘Anecdotes,’ 1833, pp. 407–9. In the manuscripts department of the British Museum are portions of the manuscript of the ‘Analysis’ and of the ‘Biographical Anecdotes’ printed by John Ireland.
[The earliest Hogarth commentator was the Swiss enameller, Jean Rouquet, who wrote, at Hogarth's request, and to accompany such sets of his prints as went abroad, a pamphlet entitled Lettres de Monsieur * * à un de ses Amis à Paris, pour lui expliquer les Estampes de Monsieur Hogarth, 1746. Rouquet, however, only explains the two Progresses, Marriage à-la-Mode, and the March to Finchley. Next comes the Rev. John Trusler, whose Hogarth Moralised, 1768, was published ‘with the approbation of Jane Hogarth, Widow of the late Mr. Hogarth,’ and who is best studied in John Major's editions of 1831–41. After Trusler follows Horace Walpole's Anecdotes of Painting, vol. iv. (1771). Ten years later John Nichols, the antiquary and printer, with the assistance of George Steevens, issued Biographical Anecdotes of W. H., and a Catalogue of his Works chronologically arranged, with occasional Remarks. This was expanded in the second edit. (1782) from 155 to 474 pp., and a third and further extended edition appeared in 1785. These Anecdotes formed the basis of the Genuine Works of W. H. by Nichols and Steevens, in three vols. 1808–17, vol. iii. of which includes reprints of a so-called Clavis Hogarthiana, 1816, by the Rev. E. Ferrers, and the prose Five Days' Tour, printed by R. Livesay in 1782. The Genuine Works is the most important of the older contributions to Hogarth biography and criticism. Besides these there is the useful Explanation of several of Mr. Hogarth's Prints, 1785 [by Mr. Felton]; the Hogarth Illustrated, and the Supplement to Hogarth Illustrated, of John Ireland, the print-seller, three vols. 1791–8; the Graphic Illustrations of Samuel Ireland, two vols. 1794–9; the Ausführliche Erklärung der Hogarthischen Kupferstiche, 1794–1816, of G. C. Lichtenberg; the Anecdotes of the celebrated William Hogarth, with an explanatory Description of his Works, 1811, 1813, 1833, designed to accompany the prints of the engraver, Thomas Cook, 1806; the Works of William Hogarth, two vols. 1812, by T. Clerk; the Life in Cunningham's British Painters, 1829; the Anecdotes of J. B. Nichols, 1833; the editions of Jones, 1830–49; of Trusler and Roberts (with an admirable essay by James Hannay), 1861; of Horne, 1872; William Hogarth, by G. A. Sala, 1866; the Works, two vols. 1872, with commentary by Cosmo Monkhouse and the present writer; Catalogue of Satirical Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, by F. G. Stephens, vols. ii.–iv.; and William Hogarth, by the present writer (1879).
Among miscellaneous critiques and essays (in addition to those mentioned in the body of the above) may be noted Gilpin's Rake's Progress in his Essay on Prints, 2nd edit. 1768; Charles Lamb's priceless paper in the Reflector, No. 3, 1811; Hazlitt's in the Examiner, Nos. 336 and 338, 1814; Hartley Coleridge's Hogarth, Bewick, and Green, Blackwood, xxx. 655; Thackeray's famous lecture, 1853; Forgue's ‘La Caricature en Angleterre,’ Revue Britannique, xxiv. 201; Mrs. Oliphant's sketch, Blackwood, cvi. 140; Professor Colvin's Portfolio, iii. 146; Stephens's Hogarth and the Pirates, ib. xv. 2; Genevay's W. Hogarth, L'Art, 1875; William Hogarth, by Feuillet de Conches, L'Artiste, 1882; Filon's ‘La Caricature en Angleterre,’ Revue des Deux Mondes, 1885; and Ward's English Art, pt. i. 1887. Besides these, Smith's Nollekens and his Times, 1828; Pye's Patronage of British Art, 1845; Brownlow's Hist. of the Foundling, 1847; Leslie's Handbook for Young Painters, 1855; Timbs's Anecdote Biography, 1860; Redgrave's Cent. of Painters, 1866; Taylor's Leicester Square, 1874; Wedmore's Masters of Genre Painting, 1880, Waagen, the Art Journal, the Magazine of Art, and the indices to Notes and Queries should be consulted. It may be added that some careful copies of Hogarth by F. W. Fairholt in Knight's Penny Mag. did much to popularise the artist's works. For the indication of some hitherto neglected advertisements of ‘A Harlot's Progress’ the writer is indebted to Mr. G. A. Aitken.]