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William Hogarth

Born: London, 10 November 1697
Died: London, 26 October 1764
Nationality: English
Background: 

father was school teacher and failed restaurant owner; spent 4 years in debtors’ prison

Studies: 

apprenticed to engraver Ellis Gamble (1713-20); St Martin’s Lane Academy (1720-24); James Thornhill’s Free Academy (1724)

Career: 

- engraver, illustrator, painter, political satirist, art theorist

1735 - initiated Engravers’ Copyright Act

1745 - held private auction of own works

1757 - appointed Painter to the King

1761 - elected member of Society of Artists of Great Britain

Travels

 France (1748)

Important Artworks: 

A Rake’s Progress (series of paintings, engraved in 1735; Sir John Soane’s Museum, London   

 

Hogarth believed:

“It is a constant rule in composition in painting to avoid regularity. When we view a building, or any other object in life, we have it in our power, by shifting the ground, to take that view of it which pleases us best; and in consequence of this, the painter, if he is left to his choice, takes it on the angle rather than in front, as most agreeable to the eye; because the regularity of the lines is taken away by their running into perspective, without losing the idea of fitness: and when he is of necessity obliged to give the front of a building, with all its equalities and parallelisms, he generally breaks (as it is termed) such disagreeable appearances, by throwing a tree before it, or the shadow of an imaginary cloud, or some other object that may answer the same purpose of adding variety, which is the same without taking away uniformity.
 If uniform objects were agreeable, why is there such care taken to contrast, and vary all the limbs of a statue?”

William Hogarth, “Of Uniformity, Regularity, or Symmetry,” The Analysis of Beauty (London: R. Scholey, 1810)