West Sussex Gazette

Exhibition at London gallery is a refreshing take on the work of artist William Hogarth

- BY RUPERT TOOVEY | visit www.tooveys.com

William Hogarth (1697-1764) has been described as one of Britain’s most important artists. His work is the subject of a major exhibition at Tate Britain which opens next week.

This beautifull­y conceived show places Hogarth’s work in the context of his British and continenta­l contempora­ries.

Hogarth’s satirical commentary on the excesses of dissolute lives in 18th century English society are defined by the strength of their pictorial narratives, and though the figures depicted are often caricature­s they are also examples of portraitur­e of the highest order.

Hogarth’s own father underwent periods of mixed fortune and at one time was in debtor’s prison. This experience perhaps lends Hogarth’s work its uncompromi­sing edge in his series of satirical social commentari­es which included A Harlot’s Progress, A Rake’s Progress, and Marriage A-la-Mode, a scene from which you see here titled The Tête à Tête.

The couple are clearly disinteres­ted in each other.

The wife sits in an un-ladylike pose. Her attire and the look on her face implies her infidelity. In contrast her husband sits dolefully and impotent while the steward, dressed as a pious Methodist, walks away with a look of disapprova­l and a ledger under his arm which we are to presume is full of unpaid accounts. The picture is filled with hidden references to the couple’s dissolute lives and its emerging consequenc­es.

William Hogarth was not only a painter but a printmaker and it was through his prints that his popularity grew, making him perhaps the most significan­t English artist of his generation.

The exhibition highlights the influence of French and Italian painting and engraving on Hogarth’s work.

I love the indifferen­ce of Hogarth’s pug as he sits before his master’s self-portrait. It gently illustrate­s Hogarth’s wit and realism.

Hogarth objected to slavishly pandering to his patron’s demands which he called phizmonger­ing. The remarkable unfinished sketch Heads of

Six of Hogarth’s Servants is my favourite in this rich exhibition. It illustrate­s the artist’s absolute gift and delight in portraitur­e at a democratic level. There is such insight into the sitters’ characters and concerns, reverence without caricature. Mrs Hogarth kept the painting in her possession at their Chiswick home until her death.

This welcome exhibition at Tate Britain provides a refreshing narrative for

William Hogarth, his times, his contempora­ries and his work.

To book your tickets visit, tate.org.uk

Rupert Toovey is a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington – tooveys. com – and a priest in the Church of England Diocese of Chichester

 ?? THE NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON ?? William Hogarth, Marriage A-la-Mode: 2, The Tête à Tête, 1743/45
THE NATIONAL GALLERY, LONDON William Hogarth, Marriage A-la-Mode: 2, The Tête à Tête, 1743/45
 ?? TATE ?? William Hogarth, The Painter and his Pug, 1745
TATE William Hogarth, The Painter and his Pug, 1745
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