It was a century of war (mostly) and peace (occasionally), of
extraordinary wealth and grinding poverty, gargantuan appetites and
desperate famines, high ideals and hypocrisy, a century of intellectual,
social and religious turmoil. In this fertile turbulence flourished one of
Britain's greatest artists: painter, printmaker, satirist, and social critic
William Hogarth, of whom the essayist and poet Charles Lamb once
said, 'Other pictures we look at; his pictures we read'.
Illustrating the full range of Hogarth's most important paintings and
prints, this book shows them in a new light, juxtaposed with work
by major European contemporaries who influenced him or took
their inspiration from him in their painting of modern life - including
Watteau, Chardin, Troost and Longhi. Hogarth is revealed not only as a
key figure in British art history, but also as a major European artist.
It is also a tale of four cities: London, Paris, Venice and Amsterdam,
represented in maps from the period. The themes of city life, social
protest, sexuality and satire which come to the fore in the art of
Hogarth and his contemporaries are very much live today.