The World of William Hogarth

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Long before there was MAD magazine and Johnny Carson, there was William Hogarth. Hogarth, an English artist and engraver who lived from 1697 to 1764, had a gift for particularly biting and graphic satire and produced many works that were rich in social commentary that ranged from very serious to very, very funny. 

 

While most satirists use words, Hogarth used his artwork to make his points. Taking full advantage of the old saying, “A picture says a thousand words,” in Hogarth’s case, his pictures spoke vast and weighty tomes about human nature and society in general, particularly what was wrong with it, at least as he saw it.

 

I saw his work for the first time years ago, while reading a Time-Life book about pirates. It was an engraving titled Gin Lane, which looked remarkably like my neighborhood at the time:

 

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia. Don’t worry Wikipedia, I donate money to you, so shut up.)

 

Many years later, I re-discovered his work through the miracle of in Internet and Wikipedia. Looking at Hogarth’s creations caused me to experience a wide spectrum of emotions, with out-of-control laughter being the vast majority of them. I've never cared too much about art. I was into blacklight posters when I was a kid, but that's about it. To most blue-collar dudes, the picture of the dogs playing poker and anything with tits is about as high-brow as it gets. Speaking of blue-collar dudes, their scrawlings on men's room walls and other incongruous places are some of the best art I've ever saw, with the dude at one end of the 40-foot trailer banging a chick at the other end with a penis that had a combined length of over 80 feet being the standout.

 

Hogarth was very prolific in his lifetime, and was the whole package as far as art-boys went. His topics were fairly diverse, but to me, he stands out for several series he did on the general subject of morality, or, as it is so incredibly and gleefully illustrated in these works, a total lack thereof, which is why they are so hilarious: A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress, and Marriage A-la-Mode.

 

They all pretty much show that nothing is new under the sun, but A Harlot’s Progress immediately reminded me of something that happened several years ago. My best friend started going out with a woman that I took an immediate dislike to (the feelings were mutual), but I kept my mouth shut. I instinctively knew she was bad news, and sure enough, she was. After a brief relationship, she left him for one of the richest dudes in town, or so he thought; nope, she would show up at regular intervals for booty-calls. Unfortunately for her, Mr. Money Bags found out, and kicked her to the street. The last I heard, Ms. Failed Gold Digger was turning tricks in Aspen, CO. Recently I showed him the series, my opening statement being, “Who does this remind you of, heh heh.” What else are friends for, but to rub your nose in shit and remind you of something painful, lol.

 

 

 A Rake's Progress is essentially the male version of A Harlot’s Progress, which makes me wonder why it couldn't have been titled "A Hoe's Progress", keeping the garden implement theme. Marriage a la Mode seems to be the Rake and the Harlot getting married. They seem to at least deserve each other, but Hogarth ensures that no matter what, the story has a very sad ending for somebody. If only they went to church more!

 

 

I don’t want to take up a bunch of space putting all of this up here, as these works are kind of bulky, but to those who are interested, William Hogarth’s works can be viewed by anyone with a computer and a modem at any number of websites.

Comments

The Burghal Hidage Added Oct 3, 2018 - 12:57pm
There is indeed nothing new under the sun 
Michael B. Added Oct 3, 2018 - 1:09pm
I stand corrected, my current 'hood also closely resembles Gin Lane, lol.
Tubularsock Added Oct 3, 2018 - 5:24pm
Michael B. great post. Very interesting.
 
Tubularsock was familiar with Hogarth’s work and Tubularsock too found a lot of laughs in his work. As well as some heavy shit.
 
His skill was amazing and the detail so fine.
 
Tubularsock tends not to look at “bathroom art” and keeps focus on not standing in piss on the floor.
 
Seems most men can’t aim and would be poor draft choices for ANY basketball team!
The Burghal Hidage Added Oct 3, 2018 - 6:06pm
When youre a man the world is your urinal :)
Cullen Kehoe Added Oct 3, 2018 - 7:20pm
The Gin Lane cartoon was hugely influential at the time in England (1750's).
 
I understand it was partly responsible for very draconian laws (Gin Act) that came in its wake. 
James Travil Added Oct 3, 2018 - 10:47pm
Well color me informed, I never heard of Hogarth before. But his work sounds worth checking out. I'm a fan of the deviant, art and otherwise, so this is definitely up my alley. 
Michael B. Added Oct 4, 2018 - 6:28am
@ TS - Thank you, TS...yes, he was a pretty talented motherfucker!
 
As far as bathroom art goes, besides dodging puddles of stale pee, you don't know what you're missing, lol. Funny, once when I was taking a piss at Schipol airport in Amsterdam, I noticed that the urinals had flies printed center-mass as a target to piss at, which gave me an idea; why not have choice of something to piss on? PTOD - Piss Target On Demand! Modern technology certainly makes that possible.
 
TBH has it right though. A friend of mine has a map of the world, with certain areas highlighted in yellow, indicating where he peed. So far he has about 25 states, which briefly had me wondering how the color yellow affects the colors of red and blue, lol.
Michael B. Added Oct 4, 2018 - 6:28am
@ Cullen K. - Yes, from what I saw, Gin Lane was the companion piece to Beer Street. Personally, I don't make the connection between the two, lol.
Michael B. Added Oct 4, 2018 - 6:28am
@ James T. - I think you would get a kick out of it, as most Satanists would. Study them thoroughly, you'll know what I mean, lol.
Leroy Added Oct 4, 2018 - 10:55am
I can't say that I have ever heard of Hogarth.  I have seen Gin Lane somewhere along the line.  I took a tour of his works.  I got a kick out of the Before and After pair.
Ian Thorpe Added Oct 4, 2018 - 11:40am
Mike B & Tubularsock, the connection between Gin Lame and Beer Street is in Hogarth's moral observation.
While Beer Street shows a scene where prosperous, happy people are drinking the traditional beverage, Gin Lane depicts gin drinkers as degenerate, depraved, dysfunctional and dissolute drunkards (I like a bit of alliteration.)
We need to remember that the gin available in Hogarth's day wasn't much like Bombay Sapphire or Tanqueray, distilling techniques were not very advanced and cheaper gins often contained methanol rather than less toxic ethanol.
Anyone who has read Charles Dickens' Bleak House my remember Mr Krook, a rag and bottle shop owner, fence (reseller of stolen goods) and lodging house keeper who drank penny gin ( meaning a penny a pint I guess, inferior quality,) when he was buying his own and fourpenny (the proper stuff flavoured with juniper berries instead of turpentine) when someone else was buying. Krook's death by spontaneous combustion reflects a popular belief at the time, that gin drinking turned the blood to alcohol.
 
For info, beer had a reputation as a healthy drink because 'pure' water at the time was not exactly pure but it was known the fermentation process removed impurities by turning the shite into something else. The only way to be sure of getting a safe drink was to drink beer, cider, wine or something that had been fermented.
 
BTW Mike, if you like Hogarths art and 'blue collar' art you might like to check out Thomas Rowlandson, an eighteenth century caricaturist who satirised the hypocrisy of upper class sexual morality - Parental Warning, Explicit Images.
opher goodwin Added Oct 4, 2018 - 3:29pm
Enter your comment here...
opher goodwin Added Oct 4, 2018 - 3:30pm
Ooops - Crumb does it for me - but I do like Hogarth! Very good artist as well as the content.
Michael B. Added Oct 5, 2018 - 3:40am
@ Leroy - Was that fucking hilarious, or what? LOL
Michael B. Added Oct 5, 2018 - 3:40am
@ Ian T. - Thanks Ian! And thank you for that all-important warning, lol. Yes, I approve of Rowlandson's work wholeheartedly!
Michael B. Added Oct 5, 2018 - 3:40am
@ Opher - R. Crumb....why am I not surprised! He was a little before my time, I guess he was a 60's thing. Hustler Humor in its hedonistic, whore-fucking heyday was much more my speed, lol.
opher goodwin Added Oct 5, 2018 - 5:53am
Errr - so Hogarth isn't just a tad before your time?
Hogarth - 10 November 1697 – 26 October 1764
R Crumb - August 30, 1943 - 
 
I seem to be a little more up to date than you don't I?
Michael B. Added Oct 5, 2018 - 6:29am
@ Opher - Once again, you manage to show your arrogant, dogmatic, communist, and lime-sucking leftist ass off to me, lol. So fucking much for trying to play "nice" with you, you ridiculous (yet hilarious) limey fuck. Anyway, if you paid attention to the opening sentence to this post, you would have noticed that I was paying homage to the great-great grand-dad of R. Crumb et al.
 
"I seem to be a little more up to date than you don't I?"
 
If it's been a while since the last time you were called an idiotic limey faggot fuck who should have his eyes, ears, and tongue slashed with the bottle broken over your stupid fucking head, consider yourself updated, lol. Gawd, you're denser than lead.
 
opher goodwin Added Oct 5, 2018 - 8:54am
Thanks Michael - I was getting worried about you.
R. Crumb....why am I not surprised! He was a little before my time, I guess he was a 60's thing.
If you go making snide remarks I guess you expect a few back, eh?
You have a go at Crumb for being before your time yet talk about Mad (founded 1952). You call me dense? Fucking hell!!
John Minehan Added Oct 5, 2018 - 5:10pm
Mad, which began life as an EC comic book in 1952 and became the only part of that line that survived excessive Congressional attention and the advent of the Comics Code Authority ("CCA"), might be a little better known in the US generally. 
 
"Comix" or "Underground Comics" are a little less widely known to the general public than Mad.
 
R. Crumb might be more generally known than most because their was documentry about him about 15 years ago and Our Cancer Year (which he did with his wife had some mainstream success.   
 
 
opher goodwin Added Oct 5, 2018 - 6:42pm
John - well thanks for providing the American angle. 
John Minehan Added Oct 6, 2018 - 5:35pm
Two things come to mind: a Time  profile on Gary Trudeau from 1976, describing him as "a Hogarth in a hurry."
 
And Travis McGee's self -description as "gin-drinker, quip-maker" in the first novel in John D. McDonald's much-admired series of pulp novels about that character. 
Michael B. Added Oct 8, 2018 - 1:26pm
R. Crumb was...dumb. Still is. Gotta be a lame-o 60's thing, otherwise Gopher's aged hackles wouldn't have went up. Fuck R. Crumb, and all of the retarded hippie assholes who worship his no-talent ass.