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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.

The Bench

This print is another of Hogarth's manifestoes about his art. Refining on his work in "Character Caricaturas," he attempts to define more closely and illustrate further the terms "character," "caracatura," and "outrè." He illustrates the term "character" by representing four pompous judges listening to a case in the Court of Common Pleas. Callously inattentive to the case before them, these undignified, pompous men, buried in their robes and wigs, slumber or read. That they are characters is suggested by the fact that their faces and posture are comic and revealing without being sharply exaggerated, and by the fact that the men have been identified as historical figures. The man with the quill is Chief Justice Sir John Willes; the one to the right with the long nose, Henry Bathurst; the third is William Noel; in the background is Sir Edward Clive.

The line of heads above the judges is a unfinished addition to the print; Hogarth worked on it the day before his death but did not complete it. The faces here seem intended as examples of "caracaturas" and "outrè"; the heads are of the lame man in Raphael's Sacrifice at Lystra, the Apostles from Leonardo's Last Supper and the long-nosed judge portrayed below. Early states depict the royal arms instead of the row of heads.

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


The Bench and Five Orders of Perriwigs
(click image to enlarge)

The Bench
Five Orders of Perriwigs

Two engravings/etchings on one full folio sheet

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: Excellent. Minor plate rub/soiling in margins.

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


The Bench by William Hogarth
(click image to enlarge)

"The Bench"

(18th century - believed to be from
"The Moral and Comic Works of the Late Celebrated William Hogarth"
published in 1797 by Laurie and Whittle, Fleet Street, London)

Sheet size: approx. 7.5 inches high by 8.25 inches wide, woven paper

Condition: Excellent; trimmed close on right side



The Bench
(click image for enlargement)

The Bench

Original 180+-year-old copperplate engraving

From "The Works of William Hogarth" by the Rev. John Trusler
published by Jones & Co., Temple of the Muses, Finsbury Square, London, 1833

Sheet size: approx. 10 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches
Original text accompanies engraving