William Hogarth was born in 1697 to a family of humble means and brought up in the then rather insalubrious area of Smithfield Market. He was apprenticed to a Silver Plate Engraver after being taken from school early to learn this trade. In 1720 Hogarth enrolled at the Saint Martin’s Lane Academy whilst striving to establish himself as a successful artist of relative autonomy. His career escalated with speed and in 1729 he eloped and married Jane Thornhill daughter of Sir James Thornhill, a successful painter with whom he trained under briefly. Thornhill quickly forgave his new son-in-law and their association assisted Hogarth in winning lucrative commissions that set his career on the right path. His early exploration of political satires, combined with his later success as an oil painter, manifested in his acclaimed series Marriage à-la-Mode, The Rake’s Progress and The Harlot’s Progress and are amongst some of his finest work.
It is for these moralising satires that Hogarth is perhaps best known, drawing on London life and the stratification of class in the eighteenth-century. These engravings not only provide insight into the history of London but also the power of social critique and satire. Hogarth himself became a devoted supporter of the Foundling Hospital, a home for children whose mothers could not care for them, donating many works of art to what would eventually become England’s first public gallery.
Below are a few examples from this collection. Please click on an image to see it in high-resolution with details of the work itself. For the full list of original antique Hogarth engravings available, please do contact us.