ANECDOTES OF PAINTING,
PAINTERS IN THE REIGN OF GEORGE II.
HAVING despatched the herd of our painters in oil, I reserved to a class by himself that great and original genius, Hogarth ; considering him rather as a writer of comedy with a pencil, than as a painter. If catching the manners and follies of an age living as they rise, if general satire on vices and ridicules, familiarized by strokes of nature, and heightened by wit, and the whole animated by proper and just expressions of the passions, be comedy, Hogarth composed comedies as much as Molière: in his Marriage à-lamode there is even an intrigue carried on throughout the piece. He is more true to character than Congreve ; each personage is distinct from the rest, acts in his sphere, and cannot be confounded with any other of the dramatis personæ. The alderman's footboy, in the last print of the set I have mentioned, is an ignorant rustic ; and if wit is struck out from the characters in which it is not expected, it is from their acting comformably to their situation and from the mode of their passions, not from their having the wit of fine gentlemen. Thus there is wit in the figure of the alderman, who, when his daughter is expiring in the agonies of poison, wears a face of solicitude, but it is to save her gold ring, which he is drawing gently from her finger.____________________
[Nichols, Biographical Anecaotes of William Hogarth, and a Catalogue of his Works, &c. London, 1781 and 82. See also Ireland, Hogarth Illustrated, London, Boydell, 1791.—W.]