Why William Hogarth?

William Hogarth, self portrait (with his pug), 1745


It's a good question;  how does the work of William Hogarth (1697-1764) fit with the Tottering heroics so brilliantly captured by Annie Tempest (b. 1959)?

In a nutshell, they are both brilliant artists working with a variety of mediums but both with a strong emphasis on using cartoon to gently satirise elements of the times when they were working.

We know that Annie's Tottering series is ever popular over a quarter of a century on from when she first started producing the series for the back page of Country Life Magazine every week.  However, a glance back at the earlier cartoons show how much English aristo society has shifted in that time;  Blue Range Rovers (CL243), for example, are no longer the preserve of the the Hooray Henry class (and in fact do Hooray Henrys even exist any more?)...

William Hogarth was adult throughout the start of the Hanoverian reign when George 1st and 2nd were on the Throne;  a time when Great Britain as a single entity was newly minted through the Act of Settlement (1701) - that the Scottish Nationalists are currently so offended by.  During George 2nd's reign (1727-1760), British interests expanded across the World, especially America and India.  Countless European skirmishes were managed and the Jacobite challenge to the Hanoverian dynasty was defeated.  A time of increasing prosperity and decadence (Handel had composed Zadok the Priest for George 2nd's coronation) saw the population of the UK rise during Hogarth's life by 50% from circa 6m.

Hogarth apprenticed at 15 to a silversmith and it was during this period that he learnt the art of etching.  He began producing his own engraved designs around 1720 and retailed these through booksellers.  He captured the essence of his time very aptly in his subject matter - with amongst his most famous series being A Harlot's Progress (1731) with A Rake's Progress following in 1733/4, after the publication of which he achieved significant recognition.

Such was the influence that Hogarth brought to society that he was partly responsible through extensive lobbying of parliament for the Copyright Act of 1735, triggered by his frustration at the extensive plagiarism of these two series of engravings.  Similarly his famous Gin Lane and Beer Street (1751) were inspired by his disappointment at the government's failure to tackle the health and social issues from excess gin drinking (beer being the much more acceptable solution leading to a pleasant and harmonious society) - but in that year new and effective legislation was passed that curtailed the excess consumption of gin.

We are only focusing on the engravings that Hogarth produced and this because we are so fortunate to be friendly with Nick Radclyffe;  the Foxdenton Archive represents one of the larger single collections of original Hogarth prints, with various items being loaned to The Tate and the National Gallery when those great institutions have been hosting events celebrating William Hogarth's life and work. 

We hope you share our enthusiasm and might be tempted to add a glimpse of this astute gentleman's handywork to a wall in your home...

Click here for our William Hogarth Collection 

Stay Frisky!

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