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Volume II: High Art and Low 1732–1750

By Ronald Paulson



Volume II: High Art and Low 1732–1750

By Ronald Paulson

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

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The second volume in Paulson's definitive study of William Hogarth explores the peak of the artist's career, from A Harlot's Progress to The March of Finchley, and concentrates particularly on the production and consumption of his works. It plays out Hogarth's conflicting aims of producing a polite or popular art, for patrons or for the general public. It is also concerned with the central issue of Hogarth as painter and engraver.

Hogarth recognised that the art market was changing. Personal patronage was declining, art works were being commercialised, and a huge new market was opening up. From his earliest professional training Hogarth had witnessed and participated in the employment of mechanical reproduction – printing and engraving – to create and extend cultural markets. The enterprising Hogarth set out to develop a new product corresponding to the expanding audience, especially appealing to those who wanted to maintain their own identity and not merely to emulate the upper class. Prints could now be seen in coffee houses and shop windows, therefore reaching an audience far beyond their owners. Art was no longer limited to the simple status of personal possession – this put in question the whole matter of property as it did of class.

Hogarth's interests extended straight down from the dukes and princesses of his conversation pictures to the lowest denizens of the London underworld. Although he makes clear in his graphic works that his sympathies lay with the 'nobodies', at the same time his pictures, with their learned allusions and visual and verbal puns, also address themselves to an educated audience. He was at once both inside and outside the system.

Volume II also focuses on Hogarth's relationship to the emergent literary form – the novels of Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding. Without Hogarth's graphic experiments of the 1730s, Richardson and Fielding would have written very differently.

List of Illustrations

1. Patron and Public (I): Paintings and Prints, 1732–1733
2. Patron and Public (II): A Rake's Progress and the Engravers' Act, 1733–1735
3. Public and Private Life in the 1730s
4. St. Bartholomew's Hospital and the New Testament History Painting, 1734–1738
5. The Mediating Woman: Literary History Paintings and Artist Satires, 1737–1741
6. Urban Pastoral: The Four Times of the Day, 1737–1738
7. Portrait Painting, 1738–1745
8. Richardson, Fielding, "Comic History-Painting," and the Rise of the Novel
9. Marriage-a-la-Mode, 1742–1745
10. Garrick and the Theatre: Public and Private Life in the 1740s
11. Popular Prints (I): Lord Lovat and The Stage Coach, 1746–1747
12. Popular Prints (II): Industry and Idleness, 1747
13. Public Paintings: The Foundling Hospital and Lincoln's Inn, 1740–1750
14. The March to Finchley, 1749–1750

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