The OF Blog: William Hogarth

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

William Hogarth

William Hogarth has long been one of my favorite 18th century illustrators. While reading the eponymous chapter of Robert Darnton's The Great Cat Massacre, the author used the first of four related engravings on the stages of cruelty to emphasize his point. However, it is the final one, "The Rewards of Cruelty," that I wanted to blog about briefly.

In this engraving, the now-dead body of Tom Nero, the rogue featured in the previous stages, is now dead by execution. His body has been turned over to the anatomists for examination. As one looks closely at this image (my regret is that it could not be larger here), one will see a plethora of little details that adds so much to the cyclical nature of cruelties - the dog chewing on his entrails, the gouging of the eyes, the slit throat - all mirrors of the previous three stages of Tom Nero's infamous life. Many viewers perhaps might sense a bit of unease or they might view themselves as the participant in the grotesque. It is this second interpretation, that of the images being grotesque, that interests me here. There is something about Hogarth's illustrations that is alluring to me, something that is dark, mysterious, and appealing while yet revolting at the same time. I cannot look at many other artists' renderings of the grotesque without thinking of Hogarth first. Hopefully, there are others reading this who have seen examples of his illustrations and will speak of their reactions to them. All I know is that he is one of the most talented illustrators/engravers, in my opinion.

6 comments:

ThRiNiDiR said...

I like this one a lot Larry, thanks for pointing W.Hogarth out.

Larry said...

No problem! :D After having read a few posts here and there about cover art and seeing a related image in Darnton's book, I thought it'd be nice to pimp out Hogarth, who was likely the best illustrator of the 18th century.

Dark Wolf said...

Nice one, Larry :)
I really like these black and white images. And I really like when I see books that have interior pictures such this one. Not that I see many.

Larry said...

Read some 18th century English lit, Mihai, that might help with the seeing of images like this! :P

Dark Wolf said...

I found some works, but the translators eliminated the pictures, imagine that. Only if I can find the English version...

Larry said...

Well, I guess you can do an online search at the very least. Trying to remember the names of other 18th century illustrators, but I'll have to go through my books later, I'm afraid.

 
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