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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.

 

Southwark Fair

Southwark Fair 

(Click image for photo of entire plate.
Any "rainbow affect" present is merely an artifact of digital photography and not on the actual engraving)

SOUTHWARK FAIR

Invented, Painted and Engraved by William Hogarth, 1733
Edition: Heath (1822)

Size: approx. 25 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Condition: Excellent. No flaws to report.

Original 195+-year-old Copperplate Engraving/Etching 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
1822

$500

Southwark Fair 
(click image for photo of entire plate)

SOUTHWARK FAIR

Invented, Painted and Engraved by William Hogarth, 1733
Edition: Heath (1822)

Size: approx. 25 1/4 x 19 1/4 inches

Condition: Excellent. No flaws to report.

Original 195+-year-old Copperplate Engraving/Etching 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
1822

[Interesting side note: this set comes from the collection of Joseph Cunard (1799-1865), brother of Samuel Cunard — founder of the White Star Line.]

(To Mr R.C. in U.K.)

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

SOUTHWARK FAIR

In this plate Hogarth represents a teeming scene from Southwark Fair, though he certainly intends it as a picture of all such fairs (in an advertisement he calls it "The Fair" and "The Humours of a Fair"). This event was held annually in September and often lasted a full fortnight; because of the riot and disorder that attended it, it was suppressed in 1762.

In "Southwark Fair" Hogarth plays on the incongruities between the high and low, the sublime and the ridiculous that appear in the scene. Exalted forms of art and entertainment (or what pass for these), many of them employing mythic subject matter, are being performed literally above the heads of the crowd. On the ground, scenes from common life take place along with entertainments of a criminal or frivolous nature. At several points the high and low mingle in a chaotic human circus.

At the extreme left the stage collapses (in a pun on the play, The Fall of Bajazet), heaving earthward, with complete loss of dignity, a company of regally costumed players who include the famous Cibber and Bullock. They fall into a china shop and onto a dice player and a gambler who are too engaged in a dispute to hear the warning of the latter's child.

The showcloth below the terrified monkey, "The Stage Mutiny," is a copy of a print by John Laguerre. It portrays a rift in the Drury Lane theatre that occurred after it was taken over by John Highmore, a gentleman turned amateur actor and director. Under the banner "We'l Starve em out," Highmore, who had bought control of the theater, points to a scroll reading "it Cost £6000." On his side are the company's scene painter, part-owner Mrs. Wilks (in mourning) and her daughter. Between the opposing factions hangs a monkey, Highmore's surrogate, protesting, "I am a Gentleman." Under the banners "Liberty & property" and "We eat," Theophilus Cibber ("Pistol's alive") and the bulk of the actors advance on the owners. Colly Cibber, who has sold his shared to Highmore, sits apart from the fray, "Quiet & Snug," with a money bag on his lap. The showcloth for a freak show below this one advertises the presence of a giant.

Amid the placid Surrey hills, a figure waving a flag from someone's shoulder has won a quarter-staff contest. A tame high-rope artist and a daredevil competitor perform, one on each side of the center stage. The reckless fellow takes his flight from a steeple, implying the church's involvement in the fair. A showcloth announces The Siege of Troy; it is presently being rehearsed for advertising purposes. To the right, on a more popular level, Punch's horse steals a clown's kerchief and a Punch and Judy show is performed. Above, a showcloth portraying Adam and Eve announces a scriptural drama; next to it a comic scene entitled "Punches Opera" shows a merry figure wheeling his wife into the jaws of a dragon. In the open area between the buildings on the right, a hat and shirt hoisted above the crowd are prizes for wrestling and running competitions.

At the extreme right stands the stall of the "Royal Was worke"; "The whole Court of France is here." A monkey beating a drum, and a wax model, advertise the show. Below, a showcloth announcing "Fawxs Dexterity of hand" pictures two contortionists and the juggler beside his own portrait. Fawkes performs with a bird and a tumbler. In the foreground, a professional fighter, head wounds well displayed, enters the fair on horseback, his sword drawn and his face screwed up in challenge. A pickpocket purposefully points him out to an astonished couple. Two bailiffs who fail to see the crime to the right arrest an actor dressed as an emporer.

To the immediate left of the fighter, a couple embrace; beside them a man inspects two young girls (the motif is similar to the central action in A Harlot's Progress, Plate I). In front of them a woman with a small barrel organ on her back runs a peep show. On a platform among the crowd a physician eats fire to attract attention while his assistant retails his quackeries. In the center foreground a youthful drummer girl accompanied by a bugler advertise their play. Her striking beauty is admired awkwardly by two bumpkins. To the left a pathetic child operates puppets with his foot (his shoes are much too large for him) and plays the bagpipes to himself. Beside his ragged figure he keeps a dog dressed as a foppish gentleman.

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