William Hogarth (1697-1764) is certainly one of the most versatile, innovative and celebrated of all British artists. He lived at a time when Britain was emerging as an increasingly urbanized, commercialized and aggressively imperial power. Like many other artists, he exploited and benefited from these changes in British society. Among his contemporaries, it was Hogarth who commented most brilliantly on society - both positively and negatively. His work celebrates the benefits of commerce, politeness and patriotism while simultaneously focusing on the corruption, hypocrisy and prejudice they brought in their wake.
In paint and in print we are shown the two contrasting sides of modernity. This book explores and explains the dramatic duality within Hogarth's work, and in doing so gives us a greater sense of the contradictions and complexities that existed within eighteenth-century British society.