Exhibition Archive

William Hogarth: Printmaker

23 February - 13 May 2001

William Hogarth Chairing the Members, Engraving (Plate from Four Prints of an Election Series)

This display contained a selection of over thirty prints by the 18th century British artist, William Hogarth (1697-1764). It included examples of the whole range of Hogarths activities as a printmaker, from his celebrated series such as A Harlots Progress, the first of his modern moral subjects, to lesser known works, such as his satirical attack on connoisseurs of old master paintings, Time Smoking a Picture. In the centre of the display are Hogarths Four Prints of an Election, the last, and most ambitious, of Hogarths attempts to deal with serious moral issues in a comic mode, which shows Britain as a country on the verge of becoming completely destabilised by the faction and propaganda resulting from party politics. The enduring popularity of Hogarths images makes the final print in the display, The Bathos, especially poignant: in this, the last print he ever made, Hogarth seems to despair of a country whose moral and artistic values remained degenerate and whose citizens had failed to appreciate the significance of his work.