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Genuine, original William Hogarth engravings and etchings from Darvill's Rare Prints

William Hogarth was an English painter and printmaker who poignantly commented the English society of the eighteenth century with biting satire. The career and life of Hogarth were as unusual as his prints.

William was born as the son of a shopkeeper (his mother) and a schoolmaster and publisher. The youth of William was overshadowed by the chronic financial problems of his father, who was even imprisoned because of his debts. This humiliating experience formed Hogarth for the rest of his life.

Hogarth started an apprenticeship as a silversmith in 1714, but never finished it. He then tried his luck as an independent engraver for copper plates. His early commissions were for cards, book illustrations and single prints. In 1720, he registered at the John Vanderbank Art Academy. Around 1726 or earlier, he was taught painting by James Thornhill whose daughter he later married. He earned some reputation for theater decoration paintings.

Hogarth experienced his first big financial success with A Harlot's Progress, a series of paintings from which he produced engravings in 1732. Only the engravings survived. The paintings were lost in a fire in 1755.

A Harlot's Progress is a set of 6 prints about the hapless life of a prostitute. It was a completely new kind of genre prints that were referred as moral history subjects.

After the big success of A Harlot's Progress, Hogarth published a male counterpart series, A Rake's Progress - a story in eight plates showing the decline of a promising young man into a life of drinking and immoral behavior.

In 1743, the painting series Marriage à la Mode was completed. It is considered his masterpiece. In Marriage à la Mode Hogarth turned his satire on the follies of the upper classes. The theme of this series is about marriage for money. Although the prints of Marriage à la Mode sold well, the paintings did not. Therefore all prints designed afterwards, were created exclusively as print designs without any painted counterparts.

In 1747 followed the series Industry and Idleness, a moral story of an idle and an industrious apprentice in twelve plates.

In 1753 Hogarth wrote his book The Analysis of Beauty, a wrap-up of his artistic and esthetic principles.

Hogarth was a very controversial and individual character. Driven by a sense for justice, he missed no chance to get into a quarrel with his contemporaries. His most hated enemy was the British politician John Wilkes, whom he had ridiculed in one of his engravings. William Hogarth died on October 26, 1764.

Time Smoking a Picture

This print, designed as the subscription ticket of Sigismunda, expresses Hogarth's fear of time as a force destructive to art while it combats the general enthusiasm in England for "dark masters" articulated by Addison in the "Spectator Vol: II: Page 83." In that Spectator (No. 83) Addison denigrates modern art as the product of such motives as vanity, avarice and envy while he sees the lifelike work of "those Great Masters that were dead" as impoved and mellowed by time.

In opposition to this view Hogarth draws Time sitting irreverently on a statue he has destroyed. The sculpture looks almost like a human being that has been executed; the noseless head, wearing a pained expression, is detached from its body. The statue's hand, also detached, points to Time's obscuring "Varnish." Time himself views a painting impassively as his scythe destroys its canvas and he obscures its detail with smoke.

The quotation from the comic dramatist Crates translates "Time is not a great artist but weakens all he touches." This quotation has been reworked by Hogarth to serve his own ends; the original reads, "Time has bent me double; and Time, though I confess he is a great artist, weakens all he touches."*

[Excerpt from Engravings by Hogarth, edited by Sean Shesgreen (Dover, 1973).]

*Paulson, Hogarth's Grapic Works, I : 242.

Frontispiece to Kirby's Perspective Made Easy and Time Smoking a Picture

(click image to enlarge, the Darvill's digital watermark does not appear on the actual original antique print)

"Frontispiece to Kirby's 'Perspective Made Easy'"
"Time Smoking a Picture"

(Heath, 1822)

Original Copperplate Engravings/Etchings from:
The Works of William Hogarth from the Original Plates Restored by James Heath, Esq., R.A.; With the Addition of Many Subjects Not Before Collected: To Which is Prefixed, a Biographical Essay on the Genius and Productions of Hogarth, and Explanations on the Subjects of the Plates by John Nichols, Esq., F.S.A.

London. Printed for Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, Paternoster Row
by Nichols and Son, Parliament Street

Sheet size: approximately 25¼ x 19¼ inches, thick woven paper.
(approx. 64cm x 48cm)

Condition: Very Good – overall age toning of paper to a pleasing creamy tone. Please refer to enlargement by clicking on the above image.


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