Hogarth in parallel
by A. Torelli, E. Notti
Hogarth investigated "nature because it was composed of lines whose different combinations served to raise in the mind the ideas of all the variety of forms imaginable". 1 Looking at nature he said that there was no elements in it which was composed of straight lines. "The inelegance of those lines makes them properly belong to inanimate bodies."2 Since the active mind gets a sort of pleasure while solving the most difficult problems, the eye finds enjoyement in winding walks, and serpentine rivers, and all sort of objects, whose form are composed principally of what Hogarth calls the weaving and serpentine lines.3 The weaving line is the more productive of beauty as flowers and any kind of ornament show.4 On the contrary the straight line varying only in lenght is less ornamental. The curved lines in general, as they can be varied in their curvature as well as in their lenght, begin on that account to be ornamental. Therefore the straight and curved lines joined begin a compound line, vary more than curves alone, and so become somewhat more ornamental.5 For this reason we shall call the weaving line, which is composed of two curves contrasted, the Line of Beauty. The Serpentine Line, as the human form, has the power of super-adding grace to beauty.
The serpentine line is called the "Line of Grace: represented by a fine wire, properly twisted around the elegant and varied figure of a cone". It leads the eye in a pleasing manner along the continuity of its variety by its weaving and winding at the same time different ways, and it cannot be expressed on paper by one continued line without the assistance of imagination because it twists so many ways.6
The serpentine line represents the human form: almost all the muscles and bones have a kind of twist which is so graceful. The winding forms can be seen examining a good anatomical figure: the human frame has more of its parts composed of serpentine lines than any other object in nature, which is a proof both of its superior beauty and that its beauty procedes from those lines.7 The beauty of variety is accomplished by means of actions that is the movement of the body: dance. The muscles of the body and the limbs acquire a facility in moving gracefully by the elegant movement in dancing. It is known that bodies in motion always describe some line or other in the air, as the whirling round of a fire-brand apparently makes a circle, the waterfall part of a curve, the arrow and bullet, by the swiftness of their motions, nearly a straight line; weaving lines are formed by the pleasing movement of a ship on the waves. Moreover beautiful women are even more beautiful than men because they consist of more lines of beauty.8
1 Ronald Paulson, Introduction to Hogarth W., The Analysis of Beauty. New Haven, London: Yale University Press. 1997
2 Ibidem, p. 98.
3 Ibidem, p. 97.
4 See p. 41 Chapter VII William Hogarth the Analysis of Beauty edited with an introduction and notes by Ronald Paulson New Haven; London; Yale University press 1997.
5 Ibidem, p. 42.
6 As above.
7 Ibidem, p. 53.
8 Ibidem, p. 104-05.