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Hogarth's Views of London

DATES June 27, 1962 through January 27, 1963
ORGANIZING DEPARTMENT European Painting and Sculpture
  • June 19, 1962 The 54 prints, mostly engravings, in The Brooklyn Museum Exhibition, HOGARTH’S VIEWS OF LONDON, opening June 27, show the great diversity and artful sensationalism of the great satirist, designer and draughtsman of the 18th century. William Hogarth, the amazing genius of the one man show in Brooklyn, was born in 1697 and died in 1764 and, during his lifetime he depicted the follies, moralities and hypocrisies of his time. “His work,” commented Una E. Johnson, Curator of Prints and Drawings at The Brooklyn Museum, “is a visual essay on London society and morals, and neither cockney nor lord escaped his scathing pen.”

    The Brooklyn Museum’s collection of Hogarth’s prints, considered to be one of the most complete in this country, was the bequest of Samuel E. Haslett in 1922. The earliest print in the Exhibition is THE LOTTERY, completed by the artist in 1721, when he was 24 years old, the last print, THE BENCH was completed the day before the artist’s death on October 25, 1764. Works of the prolific genius from the years between, in the Exhibition, will include selections from his famous series, A RAKE’S PROGRESS, HUDEBRAS, INDUSTRY AND IDLENESS, A HARLOT’ S PROGRESS and FOUR TIMES A DAY.

    The idea to create story-telling series occur[r]ed to the artist during his study of the stage which, with particular inspiration from a production of “The Beggar’s Opera,” taught him the value of dramatic gestures, from which he developed the representation of figures in action in a series of pictures derived from low life in London and arranged as scenes in a play. They were engraved under the title A HARLOT’S PROGRESS with the hope of stimulating moral reformation. In the artist’s own words “I wish to compose pictures similar to representations on the stage. My picture is my stage, and men and women my players, who by means of certain actions and gestures are to exhibit a dumb show.... I therefore turned my thoughts to a still more novel mode, painting and engraving modern moral subjects, a field not broken up in any country or age.”

    Only pictures created by Hogarth himself, and not those completed in collaboration with other artists, will be seen in The Brooklyn Museum show, which will be on exhibition in the second floor Print Galleries through January 27, 1963.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1962, 038-39.
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