A strikingly original school of
painting arose in eighteenth-century England. The real founder of the modern British
school was William Hogarth, a Londoner whose narrative candour and satiric wit
are as effective as his dazzling pictorial skill. Although Hogarth tried his
hand occasionally at mythological and historical subjects, he was at his best
in portraits and moralistic cycles. The latter were painted as bases for
engravings, which Hogarth sold widely and profitably. The most successful were A
Rake's Progress, A Harlot's Progress, and Marriage a la
whose opening episode is Signing
the Contract. The scene is set diagonally in depth for greater
theatrical effect. In a room of his London house, lined with Old Masters (which
Hogarth professed to hate), the gouty alderman, father of the bride, sits
before a table spread with gold coins of the dowry and expatiates about his
family tree, to which he proposes to add the earl. That gentleman, who has
exhausted his fortune in building the Palladian mansion seen out the window
(Hogarth detested the Palladian style) admires himself in a mirror. His betrothed,
meanwhile, is listening to the compliments murmured in her ear by the
attorney. Clearly, the story will come to a bad end. The energetic composition
owes much to the Rococo, but Hogarth's robust handling of poses and his special
variety of bold yet soft brushwork are as original as his wit.
Rake's Progress - "Карьера мота"
Harlot's Progress - "Жизнь куртизанки"
Mode - "Модный брак"
the Contract - "Подписание контракта"