Hogarth: A Life and a World

By Levinson, Martin H. | et Cetera, Summer 1998 | Go to article overview

Hogarth: A Life and a World


Levinson, Martin H., et Cetera


Jenny Uglow. Hogarth: A Life and a World. New York: Farrar Straus, 1997.

In this well-written eight-hundred page biography you will learn a lot about the artist William Hogarth (1697-1764), who mapped the territory of eighteenth century England with moral and satirical engravings. And you will learn a lot about his times.

Hogarth rose from poverty and disgrace at an early age (the "disgrace" due to his father's debts) to achieve success as a painter for his beautifully executed "Beggar's Opera." His first notable series of prints was "A Harlot's Progress," which marked the appearance of a new type of picture, the modern moral subject. The six Harlot prints trace, with closely observed detail and bitter humor, the moral corruption of a young country girl after her arrival in London. "A Rake's Progress" tells the tale of an increasingly dissolute young man who ends up in the Bethlehem Royal Hospital ("Bedlam"), the London insane asylum. (Hogarth's rake has much in common with Fielding's Tom Jones except for the unhappy ending.) The collapse of an aristocratic marriage is cleverly illustrated in "Marriage a la Mode. …

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