was a century of war (mostly) and peace (occasionally), of extraordinary wealth and grinding poverty, gargantuan appetites and desperate famines, high ideals and hypocrisy, the Enlightenment and racial inequity, 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.