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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 Mode,1743-45, 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.


A Rake's Progress - "Карьера мота"

A Harlot's Progress - "Жизнь куртизанки"

Marriage a la Mode - "Модный брак"

Signing the Contract - "Подписание контракта"

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