Sunday, June 21, 2015

William Hogarth, from The Tempest

William Hogarth, from The Tempest, c1735
31.5 x 42 in.

William Hogarth (1697-1764) was an English painter, printmaker, social critic, and satirist.  Born in London, his father was a poor Latin teacher and his apprenticeship was in the engraving of trade cards. Around this time, Hogarth began immersing himself in the culture and society of London and he sketched what he saw.  Although he initially worked as an engraver, he produced his first satirical work as early as 1721.  It caricatured financial speculation and the collapse of the South Sea stock company.  Hogarth eventually became a successful painter in a variety of genres.  Perhaps his most famous work is the six-part Marriage à-la-mode (The Marriage ContractThe Tête à Tête, The Inspection, The Toilette, The Bagnio, The Lady's Death).  The series satirizes the upper class and tells the story of a disastrous marriage agreed upon for financial gain.  This painting of a scene from Shakespeare's The Tempest represents a very different style from most of Hogarth's work, painted on a commission.  The piece utilizes a lush style of brushwork and rich, vibrant colors.  While some class commentary could perhaps be read into the disparate depictions of Caliban (on the far right) and Miranda, this content is debatable and is certainly not the main focus of the work.  Instead, Hogarth merely illustrates the scene with great skill.  Ferdinand approaches on the left to court Miranda, while her father Prospero stands between them.  The spirit Ariel, meanwhile, floats above the scene playing the lute.

1 comment:

  1. A British great artist who attracted admiration abroad noted for his paintings!