William Hogarth

William Hogarth (1697-1764)
Hogarth’s extraordinary career began with his apprenticeship to a silver engraver in Cranbourn Street. He soon turned, however, to designing and engraving plates for the print and book publishers. In 1729 he eloped with Jane Thornhill, daughter of the eminent painter Sir James Thornhill, and in 1730 decided to set up on his own, publishing and selling his own prints himself. Thus he was able to take control of his own work, altering and improving his plates as he wished. Artistically and historically Hogarth’s influence is incalculable. He strove to depict the burning moral issues of his day, trying through his art to bring about social reform. He raised the status of engraver from printseller’s hack to respected independent artist and established satirical engraving as an distinct art, thus paving the way for the later work of James Gillray, Thomas Rowlandson et al. At Hogarth's death (1697-1764), all his copper plates that had remained within his control, passed to his wife Jane. Mrs Hogarth continued to issue prints from the plates until her own death in 1789, whereupon they were inherited by her cousin Mary Lewis, who sold them to the eminent publisher John Boydell in exchange for a lifetime annuity of £250. The plates were sold again at the Boydell bankruptcy sale in 1818, and eventually passed into the possession of Baldwin, Cradock and Joy, who began
issuing prints from them in 1820. The noted engraver James Heath (1757-1835), was employed to strengthen a very few of the lines, and thus all the engravings from this issue are in their final states. This edition, carefully printed for individual subscribers on superb quality Whatman Turkey Mills wove paper is usually considered the last good printing of Hogarth's engraved works. All references are to Ronald Paulson's Hogarth's Graphic Works 3rd revised edition 1989.
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