William Hogarth Criticism - Essay

Joel Blair (essay date spring 1976)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Blair, Joel. “Hogarth's Comic History-Paintings and the Satiric Spectrum.” Genre 9, no. 1 (spring 1976): 103-19.

[In the following essay, Blair explores Hogarth's redefinition of history painting as a means of representing middle-class subjects.]

Even though the twentieth-century public has finally acknowledged the virtues of Hogarth's portraits and traditional history-paintings, his reputation still rests, as it should, on his great cycles, beginning with A Harlot's Progress (1732) and ending with An Election (1758). Frederick Antal calls them “the very beginning of a purely English art”; their author, he says, created a “genre unique...

(The entire section is 6951 words.)

Samuel L. Macey (essay date 1976)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Macey, Samuel L. “Hogarth and the Iconography of Time.” In Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, Volume 5, edited by Ronald C. Rosbottom, pp. 41-53. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1976.

[In the following essay, Macey discusses Hogarth's representation of time and timekeeping devices in his graphic art.]

If, in Maynard Mack's terms, we think of the City in contradistinction to the Garden, then Hogarth is clearly the artist of the City. As one might expect, both the denotation and the connotation in Hogarth's work reflect the radical changes taking place in London life. The most influential technological change was probably the achievement of...

(The entire section is 4530 words.)

Robin Simon (essay date 1978)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Simon, Robin. “Hogarth and the Popular Theatre.” Renaissance & Modern Studies 22 (1978): 13-25.

[In the following essay, Simon examines Hogarth's relationship to popular theater, suggesting that the artist drew inspiration from a number of productions and, in turn, provided inspiration to various theatrical producers.]

I have endeavoured to treat my subject as a dramatic writer; my picture is my stage, and men and women my players, who by means of certain actions and gestures, are to exhibit a dumb show.

I wished to compose pictures on canvas, similar to representations on the...

(The entire section is 5983 words.)

David Kunzle (essay date 1979)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Kunzle, David. “William Hogarth: The Ravaged Child in the Corrupt City.” In Changing Images of the Family, edited by Virginia Tufte and Barbara Myerhoff, pp. 99-140. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979.

[In the following essay, Kunzle discusses Hogarth's sympathetic representation of children who were, in his view, neglected by their parents as well as by society as a whole.]

The rich iconography of the child and family in Western painting since the Renaissance remains a great source of untapped information for the social historian. Philippe Ariès has looked at many pictures and considered them within broad lines of development, but specialized...

(The entire section is 9770 words.)

Robert Halsband (essay date 1984)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Halsband, Robert. “Hogarth's Graphic Friendships: Illustrating Books by Friends.” In Johnson and His Age, edited by James Engell, pp. 333-66. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1984.

[In the following essay, Halsband examines Hogarth's secondary career as a book illustrator for such notable eighteenth-century authors as Henry Fielding and Laurence Sterne.]

As a painter and draftsman-engraver William Hogarth ranks high in eighteenth-century British art. As a book illustrator, although here he expresses a lesser aspect of his genius, he is worthy of attention as well.1 When he illustrated works by contemporary writers whom he knew...

(The entire section is 6957 words.)

Ronald Paulson (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Paulson, Ronald. “Politics and Aesthetics: Hogarth in 1759.” In British Art 1740-1820: Essays in Honor of Robert R. Wark, edited by Guilland Sutherland, pp. 25-56. San Marino, Calif.: Huntington Library, 1992.

[In the following essay, Paulson examines Hogarth's work as a response to the changing aesthetic and political contexts of the 1750s.]

The 1750s marked a period of intense and varied activity in Hogarth's career. At the beginning of the decade he had gambled with high stakes when he wrote his Analysis of Beauty (published in 1753), and the response had been partisan, ad hominem, centered in the insurgents of the St. Martin's Lane Academy....

(The entire section is 9130 words.)

Ronald Paulson (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Paulson, Ronald. “Hogarth's Self-Representations.” In The Culture of Autobiography: Constructions of Self-Representation, edited by Robert Folkenflik, pp. 188-214. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1993.

[In the following essay, Paulson discusses the autobiographical elements of Hogarth's work, manifested in various self-representations, as well as representations of his father, his wife, and his father-in-law, within his paintings.]

William Hogarth wrote an autobiography (or at least notes and drafts toward one) and he produced in his graphic works self-representations, including self-portraits. He wrote the autobiography in the early 1760's as...

(The entire section is 7730 words.)

Peter Wagner (essay date 1993)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wagner, Peter. “The Satire on Doctors in Hogarth's Graphic Works.” In Literature and Medicine during the Eighteenth Century, edited by Marie Mulvey Roberts and Roy Porter, pp. 200-25. London: Routledge, 1993.

[In the following essay, Wagner studies popular attitudes toward the medical profession using the various representations of doctors in Hogarth's graphic texts.]


My interest in this chapter is in the ways Hogarth appropriates and handles various forms of popular texts and codes while creating his own ‘texts’. By analyzing the intertextual and intermedial nature of what are essentially palimpsests made up of visual and...

(The entire section is 9766 words.)

Mary Klinger Lindberg (essay date 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Lindberg, Mary Klinger. “Stylistic Strategies in William Hogarth's Theatrical Satires.” In The Question of Style in Philosophy and the Arts, edited by Caroline Van Eck, James McAllister, and Renée Van de Vall, pp. 50-69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

[In the following essay, Lindberg examines Hogarth's technique of borrowing narrative and satiric strategies from eighteenth-century theater in his paintings and engravings.]

The study of rhetorical or persuasive strategies in literary works is now well established. Less known are the stylistic strategies at work in the domain of graphic art. What is the relation between stylistic strategies in...

(The entire section is 6101 words.)

Peter Wagner (essay date 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Wagner, Peter. “‘Official Discourse’ in Hogarth's Prints.” In Reading Iconotexts: From Swift to the French Revolution, pp. 101-37. London: Reaktion Books, 1995.

[In the following essay, Wagner discusses Hogarth's work within the context of various contemporary discourses, maintaining that the artist's participation in such discourses was not necessarily something he could completely control.]

It is even probable that there exists one single rhetorical form shared by the dream, literature, and the image.

Barthes, ‘Rhétorique de l'image’

Let us...

(The entire section is 13467 words.)

N. F. Lowe (essay date 1996)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Lowe, N. F. “The Meaning of Venereal Disease in Hogarth's Graphic Art.” In The Secret Malady: Venereal Disease in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France, edited by Linda E. Merians, pp. 168-82. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1996.

[In the following essay, Lowe explains Hogarth's many allusions to venereal disease as symbols for immorality and corruption at the highest levels of British society.]

The paintings and engravings that William Hogarth called his “modern moral subjects” were not intended to be pictorial sermons preaching simple messages about right and wrong. Ronald Paulson has argued convincingly that Hogarth's intention was to...

(The entire section is 7132 words.)

Bernd Krysmanski (essay date June 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Krysmanski, Bernd. “We See a Ghost: Hogarth's Satire on Methodists and Connoisseurs.” Art Bulletin 80, no. 2 (June 1998): 292-310.

[In the following essay, Krysmanski examines Hogarth's Credulity, Superstition, and Fanaticism, the published version of the earlier Enthusiasm Delineated, which was not only a sharper satire than the reworked version, but a more mature and coherent work as well.]

I have seen Hogarth's print of the Ghost. It is a horrid composition of lewd Obscenity & blasphemous prophaneness for which I detest the artist & and have lost all esteem for the man. The best is, that the worst...

(The entire section is 12675 words.)

James Lawson (essay date July-September 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Lawson, James. “Hogarth's Plotting of Marriage à la Mode.Word & Image 14, no. 3 (July-September 1998): 267-80.

[In the following essay, Lawson analyzes Hogarth's series Marriage à la Mode using multiple critical perspectives.]

Particularly as an engraver, William Hogarth (1697-1764) addressed his audience on matters of social concern. The scene that he presented was the contemporary one, and his mode of address was declamatory. His is a thoroughly extroverted art. Of course, Hogarth was far from unreflective about what was proper to it, considered in terms of autonomy. He wrote The Analysis of Beauty (1753) in order to trace...

(The entire section is 8028 words.)

Paul Williamson (essay date February 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Williamson, Paul. “Hogarth and the Strangelove Effect.” Eighteenth-Century Life 23, no. 1 (February 1999): 80-95.

[In the following essay, Williamson contends that many of Hogarth's scenes of disorder and degradation are both enticing and repulsive at the same time.]

In Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963), directed by Stanley Kubrick, a mad USAF general orders a nuclear attack against the Soviet Union with apocalyptic consequences. When all recall mechanisms fail, the Superpowers are spurred into cooperation. The Soviets, forewarned of the approaching American B-52s, set about shooting them down, but one of the...

(The entire section is 6473 words.)

Philip Momberger (essay date fall 1999)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Momberger, Philip. “Cinematic Techniques in William Hogarth's A Harlot's Progress.Journal of Popular Culture 33, no. 2 (fall 1999): 49-65.

[In the following essay, Momberger suggests that Hogarth's engravings anticipate the narrative devices associated with cinema.]

Recent and illuminating analyses of William Hogarth's serial engravings—A Harlot's Progress (1732), A Rake's Progress (1735), Marriage à la Mode (1745), and Industry and Idleness (1747)—have explored his brilliant synthesizing of traditional pictorial forms with elements drawn from the popular arts of his eighteenth century London milieu, among them...

(The entire section is 6061 words.)