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  • Design Credit: Samantha Todhunter Design Ltd., Photo Credit: Oliver Clarke. Dimensions: H 27.38 in. x W 31.25 in.
  • Design Credit: Lucy Harris Studio, Photo Credit: Francesco Bertocci. Dimensions: H 27.38 in. x W 31.25 in.
  • Design Credit: Timothy Godbold, Photo Credit: Karl Simone. Dimensions: H 27.38 in. x W 31.25 in.
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William Hogarth
Set of Two 18th Century Engravings from William Hogarth's "Analysis of Beauty"

1753

$2,975

About

The two plates in this set were created utilizing both engraving and etching techniques by William Hogarth in 1753, originally as illustrations of his book on aesthetics, entitled "Analysis of Beauty". Due to their popularity, these plates were later published separately. The publication line in the lower right reads: "Designed, Engraved, and Publish'd by Wm. Hogarth, March 5th 1753, according to Act of Parliament." Hogarth's original copper plates were refurbished where needed by James Heath and engravings were republished in London in 1822 by Braddock, Cradock & Joy. This was the last time Hogarth's copper plates were used for printing. Most were melted during World War I for the construction of bombs. These large folio sized "Analysis of Beauty" prints are presented in antiqued gold-colored frames with double mats; the outer silk mats are light brown-colored and the inner mats are dark brown. Each frame measures 27.38" x 31.25" x 1.13". There is one tiny spot in the right margin of plate 1 and another in the lower margin; the latter could be from the printing process. The prints are otherwise in excellent condition. The "Analysis of Beauty" series is in the collection of many major museums, including: The British Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Tate Museum, The Chicago Art Institute and The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The first engraving (Plate 1) depicts a courtyard of statues which is filled with some of the most famous works of classical sculpture. The most important sculptures are surrounded by less impressive works. The Medicean Venus (#13) is in the center with a statue of Julius Caesar (#19) to the right, elevated on a pulley with a short, overdressed Brutus stands over the falling Caesar. The Apollo Belvedere (#12) is next. A judge stands to the right with his foot on a cherub (#16). Another crying cherub holds a gallows and wipes his tears with the judge's robe. A sphinx (#21) and the drunken Silenus (#107) are below the Venus. Michaelangelo's torso (#54) and a statue of Antonius (#6) are seen in the foreground. The Farnese Hercules (#3) and a bust of another Hercules (#4) under two statuettes of Isis are also included in the scene. The key to these objects is included in the form of a serpentine line winding around a cone (#26), Hogarth's "Line of Beauty". For Hogarth the winding line is an essential element of beauty in art. Hogarth's theory of beauty is communicated in this plate. Plate 2 is thought to represent the Wanstead Assembly, with the Earl of Tynley and his household. It is an adaptation of a scene in the Happy Marriage series, which complements Hogarth's Marriage à la Mode series. Hogarth scholars feel this represents Hogarth's theory about the linear presentation of attitude and action. as described in this excerpt from the text of Hogarth's "Analysis of Beauty": "Thus, as two or three lines at first are sufficient to shew the intention of an attitude, I will take this opportunity of presenting my reader (who may have been at the trouble of following me thus far) with a sketch of a country-dance, in the manner I began to set out the design; in order to shew how few lines are necessary to express the first thoughts, as to different attitudes; see fig. 71. T. p. 2, which describe in some measure, the several figures and actions, mostly of the ridiculous kind, that are represented in the chief part of plate 2. The most amiable person may deform his general appearance by throwing his body and limbs into plain lines, but such lines appear still in a more disagreeable light in people of a particular make, Ihave therefore chose such figures as I thought would agree best with my first score of lines, fig. 71. The two parts of curves next to 71 served for the figures of the old woman with her partner at the farther end of the room. The curve and two straight lines at right angles, gave the hint for the fat man's sprawling posture. I next resolved to keep a figure within the bounds of a circle, which produced the upper part of the fat woman, between the fat man and the aukward one in the bag wig, for whom I had mad a sort of an X. The prim lady, his partner, in the riding-habit, by pecking back her elbows, as they call it, from the waste upwards, made a tolerable D, with a straight line under it, to signify the scanty stiffness of her peticoat; and a Z stood for the angular position the body makes with the legs and thighs of the affected fellow in the tye-wig; the upper parts of his plump partner was confin'd to an O, and this chang'd into a P, served as a hint for the straight lines behind. The uniform diamond of a card, was filled up the the flying dress, &c. of the little capering figure in the spencer-wig; whilst a double L mark'd the parallel position of his poking partner's hand and arms: and lastly, the two waving lines were drawn for the more genteel turns of the two figures at the hither end. The best representation in a picture, of even the most elegant dancing, as every figure is rather a suspended action in it than an attitude, must be always somewhat unnatural and ridiculous; for were it possible in a real dance to fix every person at one instant of time, as in a picture, not one in twenty would appear to be graceful, tho' each were ever so much in their movements; nor could the figure of the dance itself be at all understood. The dancing-room is also ornamental purposely with such statues and pictures as may serve to a farther illustration. Henry viii. fig. 72. p. 2, makes a perfect X with his legs and arms; and the position of Charles the first, fig. 51. p. 2, is composed of less-varied lines than the statue of Edward the sixth, fig. 73. p. 2; and the medal over Q. Elizabeth, as well as her figure, is in contrary; so are also the two other wooden figures at the end. Likewise the comical posture of astonishment (expressed by following the direction of one plain curve, as the dotted line in french print of Sancho, where Don Quixote demolishes the puppet shew, fig. 75, R. p. 2) is a good contrast to the effect of the serpentine lines in the fine turn of the Samaritan woman, fig. 74. L. p. 2, taken from one of the best pictures Annibal Carrache ever painted." In the right-hand corner of the print a young wife or daughter is being told to leave the dance by a country squire who points insistently to his watch. The girl accepts a letter from her lover as she puts on her cloak. Artist: William Hogarth (1697-1764) was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. Hogarth's work was extremely diverse, ranging from serious realistic paintings and portraits to satire and moralistic pieces filled with symbolism. He often communicated his moral message in a series of paintings and engravings, such as: A Rake's Progress, Marriage A-la-Mode and A Harlot's Progress. He was by far the most significant English artist of his generation and inspired a movement of English caricaturists and satirists, including James Gillray (1756-1815), Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), Isaac Cruickshank (1764-1811) and George Cruickshank (1792-1878). His work has been studied intensely for the greater than two and a half centuries since his death with several academic scholars focusing their careers on the analysis of every element of each of his creations.

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