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Volume I: The Modern Moral Subject 1697–1732

By Ronald Paulson



Volume I: The Modern Moral Subject 1697–1732

By Ronald Paulson

The first of three volumes comprising the authoritative treatment of the life, work and times of England's greatest 18th century artist.

Trade Information: LGEN
Available as: Hardback

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Print Hardback

ISBN: 9780718828547

Specifications: 229x150mm (9x5.91in), 444pp

Illustrations: b&w

Published: May 1992


Ronald Paulson's authoritative study of the life of William Hogarth was first published in 1971 in two volumes. This latest work represents a fully revised and updated text in the light of the author's changing views on Hogarth and his art, and on the social and political issues of the period. The general growth of knowledge of and interest in the 18th Century, including the works of historians during the 70s and 80s and surveys of other English painters, have contributed substantially to Professor Paulson's reassessment.

In his study, Paulson sets out to discover answers to an entirely new set of questions: to examine not only the apparent nature of Hogarth's works, but also their underlying purpose, and the way in which the paintings are used to mythologise Hogarth's own life. Paulson wishes to differentiate those things Hogarth believed he was doing from those which, as part of the cultural milieu of the 18th Century, he was unconscious. From this study, Hogarth emerges as a more complex individual than that of the elitist Augustan satirist or the subversive popular artist.

Volume I charts the emergence of Hogarth the man, as well as being the story behind the creation of A Harlot's Progress. It also focuses on Hogarth's importance to the literary tradition as reflected in the writers who influenced him as a youth: the "Augustans" Butler, Dryden, Swift, Pope and Gay. Placing Hogarth in the context of the art of his times, Paulson examines the work of Thornhill, Kneller, Kent and the Burlingtonians, together with the aesthetics of Shaftesbury.

List of Illustrations
From the Preface to the First Edition

1. Shades of the Prison House: A London Childhood, 1697–1714
2. "The Monsters of Heraldry": Apprenticeship and the Profession of Engraver, 1714–1720
3. "The Bad Taste of the Town," 1720–1724
4. A Native English History Painting: Thornhill and the "English Don Quixote," Hudibras, 1720–1726
5. Learning to Paint: Falstaff and The Beggar's Opera, 1727–1729
6. Contemporary History and Marriage, 1729
7. Conversation Pictures, 1728–1732
8. The "Modern Moral Subject": A Harlot's Progress, 1730–1732
9. Contexts (Visual and Verbal) for the Harlot
10. Publication, Reception, and Significance of the Harlot

General Index
Index of Hogarth's Works

Ronald Paulson is Mayer Professor of Humanities at the Johns Hopkins University. He is Hogarth's foremost biographer and is a noted critic of 18th Century art and literature. The publication of his biography helped gain recognition for Hogarth as a central figure in British art and culture.

No one working in any field that Hogarth touched can afford not to begin with Paulson's splendid book. Times Literary Supplement
Beyond question, Professor Paulson's commentary will remain the most influential well into the next century. The Sunday Telegraph
To say that Paulson writes with authority would be an understatement; when it comes to Hogarth, Paulson is authority. The Spectator
This is the definitive work and, barring almost inconceivable future scholarly finds, will remain the definitive work. Art in America
Truly indispensable. Studies in English Literature
Paulson's new trilogy is a substantial and brilliant revision of his original masterpiece. Linda Colley, in The Observer
Paulson's study is densely packed with well-researched facts, and he evokes a strong sense of period and of the cultural milieu of London during the first part of the eighteenth century ... Hogarth reused props in different pictures. Paulson is excellent when describing these props and their significance. Literary Review
These very thoroughly researched books give us as much understanding of society, politics and life in England in the first half of the 18th century as they do about Hogarth ... Presented in a well-organised way, and with a firm grasp of the balance that must be found between the literary and pictorial content of Hogarth's art. The Art Book Review
This is an astonishing book, and I don't know when I last read anything on the 18th century from which I learned as much. It is a quite remarkably full chronicle of Hogarth's life, based on the exhaustive information Paulson has exhumed from manuscript records, from newspapers, and from the writings of his contemporaries ... Nothing so ambitious has been attempted for any other British artist of the period, and no one else would have the range of learning necessary to make the attempt. John Barrell, in London Review of Books, Vol 16, No 7

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