Laurence Sterne and William Hogarth in Parallel
by S. Piazza, I. Grassi and I. Mastroianni








William Hogarth (1697-1764)

William Hogarth, the son of Richard Hogarth, a Latin teacher, was born in Smithfield, London, in 1697. Hogarh's father opened a coffee-house in London but the venture was unsuccessful and in 1707 he was confined to Fleet Prison for debt. Hogarth was released five years later during an amnesty. When Hogarth was sixteen he was apprenticed to Ellis Gamble, a silver plate engraver. By 1720 Hogarth had his own business engraving bookplates and painting portraits. Around this time Hogarth met the artist, Sir James Thornhill. Impressed by his history paintings, Hogarth made regular visits to Thornhill's free art academy in Convent Garden. The two men became close friends and Hogarth eventually married Thornhill's daughter, Jane. During the 1720s Hogarth worked for the print seller, Philip Overton. Hogarth also started to produce political satires. In 1726 Hogarth published "The Punishment of Kennel Gulliver", a satire on the prime minister, Robert Walpole. Hogarth also painted pictures that told a moral story. The first of these, "The Harlots Progress" (1732), shows the downfall of a country girl at the hands of people living in London. By the 1730s Hogarth was an established artist but he suffered from print sellers who used his work without paying royalties. In 1735 Hogarth manages to persuade his friends in Parliament to pass the Engravers' Copyright Act. Later that year, Hogarth established St. Martin's Lane Academy, a guild for professional artists and a school for young artists.In1753 he published The Analysis of Beauty, a treatise on aesthetic theory which he wrote with the conviction that the views of a practising artist should carry greater weight than the theories of the connoisseur or dilettante. In 1762 Hogarth published his anti-war satire "The Times". This work upset a large number of MPs and one of the country's leading politicians, John Wilkes attacked Hogarth in his newspaper, The North Briton. Hogarth retaliated by producing his engraving, "John Wilkes Esq." In the engraving Wilkes is wearing a horn-like wig and holds his symbolic cap of liberty in such a way as to make a halo for himself. Soon after producing his print of Wilkes, Hogarth became seriously ill. In July 1763 he had a paralytic seizure but the following year he started work again and in April 1764, produced his final print "The Bathos" (1764). William Hogarth died on 25th October, 1764.