William Hogarth (1697-1764) stamped his name on an era - Hogarth’s England. His prints hang in pubs and leap out from history books. His art is comically exuberant, ‘carried away by a passion for the ridiculous’, as Hazlitt said.
Jenny Uglow is the author of the celebrated biography Elizabeth Gaskill, which the Observer described as ‘exhilarating, and written with a recklessness that springs from affection for her subject and deep knowledge of her period’. In this powerful, rich and copiously illustrated biography of Hogarth, she uncovers the man, but also the world he sprang from and the lives he pictured- in his progresses of the Harlot and the Rake, in the fashionable Marriage A-la-Mode and the horrifying Gin Lane.
Hogarth grew up in London’s Smithfield, between the hospital and the debtors’ prison, the butchers’ market and the shows of Bartholomew Fair. He became known throughout the land - but he also stumbled into intense disputes and black despair. He was an artist of flamboyant, overflowing imagination but also a satirist with an unerring eye; a painter of vibrant colour and tenderness, and an ambitious professional who broke all the art-world taboos. His tale flows through London, from Vauxhall Gardens to Tyburn, from fireworks in Green Park to the Punch and Judy shows of Covent Garden and the infants of the new Foundling Hospital.
Hogath: A Life and a World links Hogarth’s achievement to his times, placing his fierce nationalism and his philanthropic interests within the competitive world of the artists and the profound eighteenth-century re-thinking of culture and ‘politeness’. History comes to life in the voices of contemporaries - from Hogarth himself to Swift, Gay and Pope, and his great friends Fielding and Garrick. The result is a lavish study of an age and a portrait of a great artist and a proud, stubborn, comic, vulnerable man.