William Hogarth was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist who has been credited with pioneering western sequential art. Knowledge of his work is so pervasive that satirical political illustrations in this style are often referred to as "Hogarthian".
William Hogarth was born in London. In his youth he was apprenticed to the engraver Ellis Gamble in Leicester Fields. Young Hogarth also took a lively interest in the street life of the metropolis and the London fairs, and amused himself by sketching the characters he saw. By April 1720, Hogarth was an engraver in his own right, at first engraving coats of arms, shop bills, and designing plates for booksellers.
He started to work on satirical pieces early in his career and series of moral works. Hogarth lived in an age when artwork became increasingly commercialized, being viewed in shop windows, taverns, and public buildings, and sold in printshops. Old hierarchies broke down, and new forms began to flourish: the ballad opera, the bourgeois tragedy, and especially, a new form of fiction called the novel.
He drew from the highly moralizing Protestant tradition of Dutch genre painting, and the very vigorous satirical traditions of the English broadsheet and other types of popular print. In England the fine arts had little comedy in them before Hogarth. His prints were expensive, and remained so until early 19th-century reprints brought them to a wider audience.
But Hogarth was also a popular portrait painter even for a long period of his life, he tried to achieve the status of history painter, but had no great success in this field. Hogarth wrote and published his ideas of artistic design in his book The Analysis of Beauty (1753). In it, he professes to define the principles of beauty and grace which he, a real child of Rococo, saw realized in serpentine lines.
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