Artist profile: William Hogarth – Portraits

Every month, I profile an artist who inspires my own art,
in several segments.

As famous as William Hogarth is for his sequential and moral artworks, he was also a consummate portraitist. For my last post about him, I will share with you six of Hogarth’s portraits of famous and non-famous people.
Miss Mary Edwards (1742)
Check out that dress! Bright and lacy. Hogarth included animals in many of his portraits, which is a way to humanize the person and hint at their personality; besides that, Hogarth loved animals and supported animal rights.
The Graham Children (1742)
Wow. We’ve got these incredibly life-like children – they remind me of Sofonisba Anguissola’s siblings. Besides the kids, we’ve also got a bird stretching its wings in a cage and a cat peaking out from the top of the chair! Look at that face.
The Shrimp Girl (c. 1740-45)
This portrait of an unknown woman is also called The Saleswoman of Crabs. Young women like her commonly sold the bounty of the sea caught by their male relatives. I think her facial expression makes her look like Mary Tyler Moore or something. The painting shows a loose style, a precursor to Impressionism. It’s unclear whether Hogarth actually considered this painting finished.
Servants of the Artist (date unknown)
It’s not surprising that Hogarth would paint his servants, given the subjects of his other artworks. I really like that he did so, and in a wonderfully humanizing way, not a “hey look at me in the center of this giant group of people who do my bidding all day” way. And yes, there’s a kid, because there were no child labor laws back then.
David Garrick as Richard III (1745)
Hogarth painted and drew a lot of theatre-related works. David Garrick, his friend, was a famous actor, playwright, producer, and theatre manager. His acting style was the type of natural, unaffected style that we like today but was quite different in the 1700s. Garrick’s breakout role was as Richard III in the Shakespeare play of the same name. The painting shows a scene from Act V after Richard has just woken from a dream in which his victims haunt him. If you visit the I Can Haz Cheezburger website, you’ve probably seen this image with funny captions added to it.
David Garrick and His Wife (1757)
I love this! I love it! I’ve never seen a historical portrait like this before. Garrick and his wife, Eva Marie Veigel are too cute together – you can tell that they had a long and happy marriage.

There’s a great story about how they got together: Veigel was a famous German dancer who danced in operas. She fell in love with Garrick upon seeing him act on stage, and he quickly became enamored of her when they met. However, Veigel’s patron, the Countess of Burlington, thought that Garrick was a step down for Veigel, so she told Garrick to use his famed acting ability to make Veigel fall out of love with him. Garrick tried, but Veigel still loved him, and his willingness to try convinced the Countess that he was a good match.

Oh man. Writing about William Hogarth this month was really tiring. I’m so glad I added him to my list of artist profiles, though – he was uber talented and I learned a lot about the English art scene of the 1700s.

Other parts in the William Hogarth artist profile series
Marriage à-la-mode
Four Times of Day



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