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Title: Hogarth
Author: Hind, C. Lewis (Charles Lewis), 1862-1927
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hogarth" ***

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    MASTERPIECES IN COLOUR

    EDITED BY--T. LEMAN HARE


    HOGARTH

    (1697--1764)


    “MASTERPIECES IN COLOUR” SERIES


    ARTIST.               AUTHOR.

    VELAZQUEZ.            S. L. BENSUSAN.
    REYNOLDS.             S. L. BENSUSAN.
    TURNER.               C. LEWIS HIND.
    ROMNEY.               C. LEWIS HIND.
    GREUZE.               ALYS EYRE MACKLIN.
    BOTTICELLI.           HENRY B. BINNS.
    ROSSETTI.             LUCIEN PISSARRO.
    BELLINI.              JAMES MASON.
    REMBRANDT.            JOSEF ISRAELS.
    LEIGHTON.             A. LYS BALDRY.
    RAPHAEL.              PAUL G. KONODY.
    HOLMAN HUNT.          MARY E. COLERIDGE.
    TITIAN.               S. L. BENSUSAN.
    MILLAIS.              A. LYS BALDRY.
    CARLO DOLCI.          GEORGE HAY.
    GAINSBOROUGH.         MAX ROTHSCHILD.
    TINTORETTO.           S. L. BENSUSAN.
    LUINI.                JAMES MASON.
    FRANZ HALS.           EDGCUMBE STALEY.
    VAN DYCK.             PERCY M. TURNER.
    LEONARDO DA VINCI.    M. W. BROCKWELL.
    RUBENS.               S. L. BENSUSAN.
    WHISTLER.             T. MARTIN WOOD.
    HOLBEIN.              S. L. BENSUSAN.
    BURNE-JONES.          A. LYS BALDRY.
    VIGÉE LE BRUN.        C. HALDANE MACFALL.
    CHARDIN.              PAUL G. KONODY.
    FRAGONARD.            C. HALDANE MACFALL.
    MEMLINC.              W. H. J. & J. C. WEALE.
    CONSTABLE.            C. LEWIS HIND.
    RAEBURN.              JAMES L. CAW.
    JOHN S. SARGENT.      T. MARTIN WOOD.
    LAWRENCE.             S. L. BENSUSAN.
    DÜRER.                H. E. A. FURST.
    MILLET.               PERCY M. TURNER.
    WATTEAU.              C. LEWIS HIND.
    HOGARTH.              C. LEWIS HIND.
    MURILLO.              S. L. BENSUSAN.
    WATTS.                W. LOFTUS HARE.
    INGRES.               A. J. FINBERG.

          _Others in Preparation._


     [Illustration: PLATE I.--THE SHRIMP GIRL. Frontispiece

     (In the National Gallery, London)

     This brilliant, impressionist sketch, done long before the era
     of impressionism, is something of a marvel. “The Shrimp Girl”
     cries out from Hogarth’s works, a _tour de force_, done without
     premeditation, in some happy hour when the unerring hand
     unerringly followed the quick eye.]



    HOGARTH

    BY C. LEWIS HIND


    ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT
    REPRODUCTIONS IN COLOUR

    [Illustration: IN SEMPITERNUM.]

    LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACK
    NEW YORK: FREDERICK A. STOKES CO.


    The plates are printed by BEMROSE & SONS, LTD., Derby and London

    The text at the BALLANTYNE PRESS, Edinburgh



    CONTENTS


                                                     Page

       I. An Auction and a Conversation                11

      II. Hogarth as Deliverer                         19

     III. Two Books about Hogarth                      29

      IV. Who was William Kent?                        38

       V. Hogarth as Painter                           45

      VI. Some Pictures in National Collections        57

     VII. The Soane Museum and Foundling Hospital      66

    VIII. The “Villakin” at Chiswick, and the End      73



    LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


    Plate

       I. The Shrimp Girl                Frontispiece
              In the National Gallery, London
                                                 Page

      II. Hogarth’s Sister                         14
              In the National Gallery, London

     III. Miss Fenton                              24
              In the National Gallery, London

      IV. James Quin                               34
              In the National Gallery, London

       V. Marriage à la Mode                       40
              In the National Gallery, London

      VI. Sarah Malcolm                            50
              In the National Gallery of Scotland,
              Edinburgh

     VII. Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, 1666-1747      60
              In the National Portrait Gallery,
              London

    VIII. Peg Woffington                           70
              In Sir Edward Tennant’s Collection



I

AN AUCTION AND A CONVERSATION


The auction was proceeding leisurely and without excitement. It was an
“off day.” I was present because these pictures of the Early British
School included a “Conversation Piece” ascribed to Hogarth, and a
medley of prints after him, worn impressions, the vigour gone, merely
the skeletons of his bustling designs remaining. They fetched trivial
prices: they were not the real thing. And there was little demand for
the portraits by half-forgotten limners of the period, portraits of
dull gentlemen in eighteenth-century costume, examples of wooden
Thomas Hudson, famous as the master of Sir Joshua Reynolds, and of
such mediocrities as Knapton and Shackleton. Yet they evoked a sort of
personal historical interest, recreating, as portrait after portrait
passed before our eyes, the level highway of art of those days before
Hogarth delivered it from the foreign thraldom.

Tranquilly I contemplated the procession of lifeless portraits, noting
with amusement the contrast between the grimy but very real hands of
the attendant who supported the canvases upon the easel, and the
painted hands in the pictures. The attendant’s body was hidden by the
canvas, but his hands appeared on either side of the frame clutching
it. I indicated the contrast to my companion, a connoisseur, but he
saw no humour in the comparison. He was almost sulky. A decorative
Francis Cotes, and a luminous Richard Wilson, that he hoped to acquire
for a few pounds, had gone into the fifties. He indignantly refused to
make a bid for the “Conversation Piece” ascribed to Hogarth. “What
a period! what an outlook!” he cried. “William Kent the arbiter of
taste, portraits with the clothes done by drapery men. Conversation
Pieces with stupid gentlemen and stupid ladies doing nothing stupidly,
and Hogarth flooding the town with his dreadful moralities. Pah!” He
shook himself, emitted an exclamation of disgust that made the
auctioneer glance quickly in his direction, and then said brusquely,
“What do you think of Matisse?”

     [Illustration: PLATE II.--HOGARTH’S SISTER

     (In the National Gallery, London)

     This dashing and brilliant portrait probably represents Ann
     Hogarth, the artist’s younger sister, who died, unmarried, in
     1771. Note the vivacious and original way in which Hogarth has
     handled this sympathetic subject, and the skill with which he
     has, as it were, “substituted light and colour for paint.”]

I was not going to be drawn into that. I knew that Matisse was _le
dernier cri_, the newest “master,” the idol of the moment among the
“advanced,” who had passed beyond the re-discovery of Cézanne and Van
Gogh. Hogarth, the painter Hogarth, not the “pictur’d moralities”
Hogarth, had also had his period of re-discovery. Perhaps it began
that day in the eighties when Whistler was admiring, “almost
smelling,” the Canalettos in the National Gallery, while his
companion, Mr. Pennington, was seeing for the first time Hogarth’s
“Marriage à la Mode” series, “fairly gasping for breath,” to quote his
own words.

“Come over here, quickly,” cried Pennington. “What’s the matter?” said
Whistler, turning round. “Why! Hogarth! He was a great painter!”
“Sh--sh,” said Whistler (pretending he was afraid that some one would
overhear), “Sh--sh. Yes! _I know it.... But don’t you tell ’em._”

Whistler had known that Hogarth was a great painter for years. His
appreciation of the pugnacious little man of genius, with “a sort of
knowing jockey look,” to quote Leigh Hunt, dated from his boyhood.
“From then until his death,” says Mr. Pennell, “Whistler always
believed Hogarth to be the greatest English artist who ever lived, and
he seldom lost an opportunity of saying so.”

Well, it is a long time since the eighties, and to-day the fame of
Hogarth as a painter is as great as was his fame as a moralist and
satirist in the eighteenth century. Indeed I observe that some writers
are beginning to resent praise of Hogarth as a painter, considering
that the incident is closed, that all are agreed. That is not so. My
friend, the connoisseur, who sat by my side at the auction sale,
dissents. When he asked me fiercely what I thought of Matisse, I
countered with the question--“What do you think of Hogarth?”

His answer was short and to the point. “There are only two of his
things that interest me. They’re great. I mean, of course, ‘The
Shrimp Girl,’ and ‘The Stay Maker.’ No! I don’t care about his
moralities, and satires, and progresses. Single figures and incidental
passages are charming, as good as the best episodes in Frith, but as a
whole they’re dowdy, and every one of them shouts. I object to shouts
and screams in art. Exaggeratedly exact and humorous records of
eighteenth-century life and topography they may be, but I don’t want
to be reminded of the eighteenth century. Give me the present or the
real past, not the past of yesterday. It’s too near, too like us in
our Bank Holiday moods, to be pleasant. Whistler called him the
greatest English artist, did he? Merely another example of Whistler’s
extravagance. Hogarth has his place. Let us keep cool and keep him
there.”

“But consider his portraits,” said I, “and the charm and skill of his
oil paintings. Consider them apart altogether from the engravings,
which do not do the pictures any sort of justice. ‘The Stay Maker,’ I
remember, was hung at the Old Masters in 1908 with twenty-eight other
Hogarths. What a display that was. Consider ‘Garrick and his Wife,’
‘Mary Hogarth,’ ‘Miss Lavinia Fenton,’ ‘The Servants,’ the superb
‘Marriage à la Mode,’ ‘Captain Coram,’ ‘Peg Woffington,’ ‘The Fishing
Party,’ ‘Pall Mall,’ ‘George II. and his Family,’ at Dublin, the water
piece from the ‘Idle Apprentice’ series. And above all consider the
time when he lived--you _must_ consider that. He was born in 1697.
Like Giotto and Watteau, he was a pioneer.”

“I don’t take the slightest account of an artist’s period,” said my
companion, as we moved away from the auction room. “The date of his
birth doesn’t interest me in the least. I ask myself only, Was he a
great artist? Call Hogarth the Father of English Painting if you like,
say that he set the ball rolling, that he gave life to dry bones, then
recall his achievement, and where does he stand? What are his six best
works against Gainsborough’s best six? What is his ‘Captain Coram’ to
Reynolds’s ‘Lord Heathfield,’ and much as I admire his ‘Stay Maker,’
what is it to Watteau’s ‘Gersaint’s Sign’? Compliment Hogarth as much
as you like, say that he was half-a-dozen men in one--satirist,
publicist, draughtsman, engraver, moralist, caricaturist, painter--but
keep him in his place. I admit that he had an extraordinary gift for
putting on the colour clean, swift, and straight, but don’t magnify
his gifts. Hogarth was a fighting preacher, an eighteenth-century Dr.
Clifford with a natural aptitude for drawing and painting. He was half
publicist, half artist. Now Matisse was artist all through. Maurice
Denis understands him perfectly, and that article of Denis’s in
‘L’Occident’ was--But you haven’t told me what you think of Matisse?”



II

HOGARTH AS DELIVERER


I refused absolutely to consider Matisse. Let all thought of Matisse
be banished. The subject of this little book is Hogarth, and in
studying him or any other artist, I entirely disagree with my friend,
the connoisseur, that one must disregard his period, ignore his
birth-date, and consider only his achievement. Hogarth was born in
1697, and being an original he turned his back upon convention and
faced realities. But although he reproduced, with consistent
forcefulness, the life of his day, now and again he suffered himself
to be influenced by convention. Did not he write: “I entertained some
hopes of succeeding in what the puffers in books call the _first style
of history painting_: so that without having a stroke of this _grand_
business before, I quitted small portraits and familiar conversations,
and with a smile at my own temerity commenced history painting, and on
a great staircase at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital painted the Scripture
stories, ‘The Pool of Bethesda’ and ‘The Good Samaritan,’ with figures
seven feet high.” These are his failures, because he was looking not
at life, but at picture-land. A failure, too, was the altar-piece for
St. Mary Redcliffe at Bristol, painted as late as 1756, when he was
fifty-nine. For this huge altar-piece, in three compartments, he
received five hundred and twenty-five pounds. Removed in 1858 to the
Bristol Fine Arts Academy, this immense triptych was last year sent to
London for sale, which seems unkind, if not cruel, to the memory of
Hogarth. He painted these “grand manner” canvases because, as he says,
“I was unwilling to sink into a _portrait manufacturer_.” Had Hogarth
succeeded in “the first style of history painting,” had he continued
in that facile convention, he would never have been hailed as the
Father of English Painting, and Sir Walter Armstrong would assuredly
never have written in his survey of “Art in Great Britain and Ireland”
these words: “At the end of the seventeenth century fortune sent a
deliverer.”

A deliverer from what? From the thraldom of foreign artists, and
artists of foreign extraction, and from the monotonous level of
mediocrity into which British art had sunk after the “Kneller
tyranny.” Perhaps two parallel lists of portrait painters will be the
best exemplification, one beginning with Holbein, who was born just
two hundred years before Hogarth, the other with Hogarth--the
deliverer. Many minor names are, of course, omitted.

        BEFORE HOGARTH            ENTER HOGARTH
    Holbein      1497-1543   Hogarth         1697-1764
    Bettes      ?1530-1573   Hudson          1701-1779
    Jonson       1593-1664   Ramsay          1713-1784
    Van Dyck     1599-1641   Reynolds        1723-1792
    Dobson      ?1600-1658   Cotes           1725-1770
    Walker       1610-1646   Gainsborough    1727-1788
    Lely         1618-1680   Romney          1734-1802
    Mary Beale   1632-1697   Raeburn         1756-1823
    Kneller      1646-1723   Hoppner        ?1758-1810
    Richardson   1665-1745   Opie            1761-1801
    Thornhill    1675-1734   Lawrence        1769-1830
    Vanloo       1684-1745

In pre-Hogarthian days first Holbein and later Van Dyck dominated
British art, Van Dyck’s being by far the stronger influence. Indeed
it has lasted until to-day. Dobson, a sterling painter, was a pupil of
Van Dyck’s. Lely was born at Soest near Utrecht, Kneller at Lübeck,
and Vanloo at Aix. The residuum of native-born painters is not very
important, and although one might add a score of names to those
included in the pre-Hogarthian list, it is obvious that before the day
of the “sturdy little satirist,” with his hatred of all things
foreign, including the “black old masters,” and his love of all things
English, except William Kent and his circle, and such folk as happened
to annoy him, art in England had no independent growth. It certainly
was not racial, and it was not characteristic in any way of the
English temperament or the English vision. After Hogarth, excluding
his minor contemporaries, Hudson, Ramsay, and Cotes, the art of Great
Britain was illumined by the light of genius, native born, which began
with Reynolds and Gainsborough, and spread out in varying and
decreasing splendour down to the prettinesses of Lawrence.

Had Hogarth any influence? In one way he had. He was the founder of
the anecdotic school. But, in the eighteenth century, he was
regarded as a satirist, as a maker of “moral pieces,” and, with a
few exceptions, he won small esteem as a painter. Sir Joshua hardly
mentions him, although they both lived for years in Leicester Fields,
and Sir Joshua must have known his portraits well, and must often have
seen the little man, twenty-six years his senior, walking within the
enclosure “in a scarlet _roquelaure_ or ‘rockelo,’ with his hat cocked
and stuck on one side, much in the manner of the Great Frederick of
Prussia.”

     [Illustration: PLATE III.--MISS FENTON (In the National
     Gallery, London)

     Here we have the famous actress, Miss Lavinia Fenton, as “Polly
     Peachum” in the “Beggar’s Opera.” Born in 1708, she married, as
     his second wife, Charles Paulet, third Duke of Bolton: she died
     in 1760. The “Beggar’s Opera” was produced at Lincoln’s Inn
     Fields in 1728.]

Whatever private admiration Sir Joshua may have had for Hogarth as a
painter, there are few signs of it in his public utterances. Was it
because “our late excellent Hogarth imprudently, or rather
presumptuously, attempted the great historical style”? But Hogarth had
some praise from the President in the Fourteenth Discourse, delivered
on December 10, 1788, twenty-four years after Hogarth’s death. He is
accredited with “extraordinary talents,” with “successful attention to
the ridicule of life,” with the “invention of a new species of
dramatic painting.” Lamb, dear Lamb, took up the cudgels for Hogarth
even as a historical painter, arguing that “they have expression of
_some sort or other_ in them. ‘The Child Moses before Pharaoh’s
Daughter,’ for instance, which is more than can be said of Sir Joshua
Reynolds’s ‘Repose in Egypt.’” Well, it does not matter either way.
Neither Hogarth nor Sir Joshua live by their “excursions into the Holy
Land.”

The point I wish to labour is that the admiration of Hogarth’s
contemporaries was almost entirely for his “pictur’d morals,” not for
his paintings. It was his engravings that made him known; few saw the
paintings, and it was only when the paintings began to be studied long
after his death, that his greatness was revealed. Selections of his
works were brought together in 1814, 1817, and 1862. By the latter
date connoisseurs acknowledged that Hogarth “was really a splendid
painter.”

Who can be surprised that the “pictur’d moral” engravings were
popular--“The Harlot’s Progress,” “The Rake’s Progress,” “Marriage à
la Mode”? They were a new thing in British art. Here was the life of
the day reproduced, accented stridently and humorously. The people
were interested, bought the engravings, found their satire amusing,
and remained unregenerate. The pirates copied them, Hogarth fought the
pirates, and he found that the success of “these pictures on canvas
similar to representations on the stage,” enabled him to meet the
expenses of his family, which portraits and “Conversation Pieces” had
failed to do. It was the engravings that were popular, that sold. The
pictures themselves brought him little fame and little money. It was
six years before the “Marriage à la Mode” series found a purchaser. In
1751, Mr. Lane of Hillingdon bought the set for one hundred and twenty
pounds at the queer sale devised by Hogarth, one of the stipulations
being that no dealers in pictures were to be admitted as bidders.
There was no crush. Only three people were present at the
sale--Hogarth, Dr. James Parsons, and Mr Lane, the buyer.

Connoisseurship in painting was at a low ebb in the first half of the
eighteenth century. The old masters, the “old dark masters,” whom
Hogarth attacked so vigorously, were supposed to have said the last
word in painting. There was no national collection, and no display of
pictures until Hogarth originated the exhibition at the Foundling
Hospital in 1740 with the presentation to the institution of his
“Captain Coram.” Between 1717 and 1735, when “The Rake’s Progress”
appeared, Hogarth had issued a vast number of prints, and he
continued to do so until the end of his life, closing the amazing
series with “The Bathos,” done with cynical humour just before his
death.

Walpole asserted that “as a painter Hogarth had but slender merit,”
Churchill called him a “dauber,” and Wilkes spoke of his portraits as
“almost beneath all criticism,” but these gentlemen were prejudiced.
Lamb made the neat remark that we “read” his prints, and “look” at
other pictures; Northcote said, “Hogarth has never been admitted to
rank high as a painter;” but Walter Savage Landor atoned for these
depreciations by proclaiming that “in his portraits he is as true as
Gainsborough, as historical as Titian,” which is neither true nor good
sense.

To-day, of course, everybody, with a few exceptions, extols Hogarth as
a painter, and students of the manners of the eighteenth century
continue to peer at his engravings.

Hogarth, of course, thought well of himself.

“That fellow Freke,” he said once, “is always shooting his bolt
absurdly one way or another.”

“Ay,” remarked his companion, “but at the same time Mr. Freke declared
you were as good a portrait-painter as Van Dyck.”

“_There_ he was in the right,” quoth Hogarth.

And Mrs. Hogarth thought well too of the painter quality in her
“sturdy, outspoken, honest, obstinate, pugnacious little man,”
who--one is glad to believe--once pummelled a fellow soundly for
maltreating the beautiful drummeress who figures in “Southwark Fair.”
In one of his “Eighteenth Century Vignettes,” Mr. Austin Dobson tells
us that Mrs. Hogarth, who survived her husband twenty-five years,
thought that his pictures had beautiful colour, and that he was more
than a painter of morals.

Mrs. Hogarth had insight, or perhaps she remembered what the little
man of genius must often have told her. He knew what he was worth, he
knew the illuminating power of his light, and it was not his way to
hide it under a bushel.



III

TWO BOOKS ABOUT HOGARTH


Tardily, perhaps, I mention Mr. Austin Dobson’s name. In writing of
Hogarth and the vigorous part he played in the art life of the
“worst-mannered” century, as it has been called, Mr. Dobson is as
indispensable as a Blue Book to a politician. But unlike Blue Books,
his writings are delightful. He _is_ the eighteenth century, and his
volume on William Hogarth is definitive. Originally published, I
believe, in 1879, it has passed through several editions, being
continuously improved and enlarged. One of its avatars was the stately
and sumptuous art monograph of 1902, with some prefatory pages by Sir
Walter Armstrong on the painter’s technique. The volume has now
reached a new, enlarged, and small edition, a combination of
Hogarthian lore, apt gossip, and reference book.

The text--well, the text is by Mr. Dobson; just to say that suffices.
And at the end are thirty-five pages of a Bibliography of Books, &c.,
relating to Hogarth; thirty pages of a Catalogue of Paintings by or
attributed to Hogarth; and sixty-three pages of a Catalogue of the
Principal Prints by or after Hogarth. As a postscript to the Catalogue
of Prints is this note: “It has also been thought unnecessary to
include several designs, the grossness of which neither the ingenuity
of the artist nor the coarse taste of his time can now reasonably be
held to excuse.” There you have the eighteenth century of which
Hogarth was child and master.

In writing of him it would be agreeable to confine one’s remarks
entirely to his paintings, but that must not be. And why should it be?
The more one peers into that busy, brutal, bewildering eighteenth
century, the more interesting it becomes. Names start out. You dip
here and there, and the names become clothed with personality. Mr.
Dandridge, for example, who painted William Kent. Of them more anon.
The first entry in Mr. Dobson’s Bibliography contains a mention of
Dandridge, under the date 1731, when Hogarth was thirty-four. I copy
it. The extract opens a fuzzy window to the eighteenth century.

     “Three Poetical Epistles. To Mr. Hogarth, Mr. Dandridge, and
     Mr. Lambert, Masters in the Art of Painting. Written by Mr.
     Mitchell. _Dabimus, capimusque vicissim._ London: Printed for
     John Watts, at the Printing Office in Wild-Court near Lincoln’s
     Inn Fields. MDCCXXXI. Price sixpence. 4to.

     “The epistle to Hogarth, whom the poet styles his friend, and
     ‘Shakspeare in Painting,’ occupies pp. 1-5, and is dated ‘June
     12th, 1730.’ Passages are quoted at p. 32. The following, from
     that to the ‘eminent Face Painter,’ Bartholomew Dandridge, p.
     6, gives the names of Hogarth’s artistic contemporaries:--

        ‘Nor wou’d I, partial or audacious, strive
        To show what artists most excel alive: ...
        How Thornhill, Jervas, Richardson and Kent,
        Lambert and Hogarth, Zinks (Zincke) and Aikman paint;
        What Semblance in the Vanderbanks I see,
        And wherein Dall (Dahl) and Highmore disagree;
        How Wooten, Harvey, Tilliman and Wright,
        To one great End, in diff’rent Roads delight,’ &c.”

The verse is sorry stuff, is it not? One might go on for pages quoting
from this bovrilised Bibliography. Under the date 1753 is the
announcement of Hogarth’s unfortunate experiment in æsthetics--“The
Analysis of Beauty. Written with a view of fixing the fluctuating
ideas of Taste.” It would be pleasant to contrast Lamb’s eulogy from
the famous essay in “The Reflector” with Mrs. Oliphant’s sorrowful
comments. Space permits a few words only. “I contend,” says Lamb,
“that there is in most of his subjects that sprinkling of the better
nature, which, like holy-water, chases away and disperses the
contagion of the bad.” Says Mrs. Oliphant: “Before his pictures the
vulgar laugh, and the serious spectator holds his peace, gazing, often
with eyes awestricken, at the wonderful unimpassioned tragedy. But
never a tear comes at Hogarth’s call. It is his sentence of
everlasting expulsion from the highest heaven of art.”

     [Illustration: PLATE IV.--JAMES QUIN

     (In the National Gallery, London)

     Quin, the actor, was Garrick’s portly rival. Note the eloquent
     eye and the voluble mouth. This hearty, eighteenth-century
     mummer wears a full-bottomed grey wig, and is dressed in a
     brown coat richly frogged with gold. The portrait is inscribed
     “Mr. Quin.”]

The serious spectator may hold his peace before Hogarth’s pictures,
and I am quite prepared to admit that never a tear comes at Hogarth’s
call, or, for the matter of that, at the call of any other artist,
great or small. Plays or books may make us cry, but pictures never.
Alfred Stevens remarked that. The serious spectator, if he has been
well brought up, certainly holds his peace before Hogarth’s pictures,
that is his paintings, but if he be a connoisseur his peace passes
into joy at the pure colour, the fresh technique, the impulse and the
vision of this great painter, whose fate it was to be regarded for so
long as a mere moralist, and to be refused “the highest heaven of
art,” where Raphael and Correggio--yes! and the eclectics of
Bologna--reigned. But the world has grown older and taste has
improved, has changed very much since the day of the “notorious Mr.
Trusler,” whose name appears, with two other eighteenth-century
authors, on the title-page of another book on Hogarth that I possess.

I bought it years ago for a few pence at a second-hand book shop. It
is a “popular” edition, undated, written and compiled by John Trusler,
John Nichols, and John Ireland, and is no doubt based upon “The Works
of Mr. Hogarth Moralised (1768), with Dedication by John Trusler.” It
was Mrs. Hogarth herself who, after her husband’s death, “engaged a
Gentleman to explain each Print and moralise on it in such a Manner as
to make them as well instructive as entertaining.”

Many in their youth must have gained their knowledge of Hogarth from
this curious, informing volume, or from one of the many other
compilations based upon the 1768 edition. The title of my volume
precisely describes it--“The Works of William Hogarth: One hundred and
fifty plates with Explanations.” On each left-hand page is the
picture, filling the page; on each right-hand page is the description
and explanation, usually filling the page. The blocks are worn,
travesties of the original prints; the letterpress is no doubt just
what Mrs. Hogarth desired when she “engaged a Gentleman to explain
each Print and moralise upon it.”

The book is a monument to Hogarth’s fecundity as draughtsman,
observer, and satirist, but it gives no hint of his capacity as
painter. Here is the dainty “Marriage à la Mode” pageant in a series
of battered _cliches_; here is “The Shrimp Girl,” a mere dull
illustration of a type in the same _genre_ as “The Milk Maid” and “The
Pie Man.” I knew them well as a youth under the moral guidance of the
Rev. Dr. Trusler; knew them without love, without emotion. Then one
day at the National Gallery I saw the paintings of the “Marriage,”
“The Shrimp Girl,” and his “Sister,” saw “Polly Peachum” and “Peg
Woffington,” and himself painting the Comic Muse, and lo! I discovered
that Hogarth was a painter, here bold, there exquisite, according to
the demands of the subject.

Something perilous was it for an imaginative boy to pore over the
plates in the Trusler-Nichols-Ireland book, in the propriety of a
well-ordered home. Had life ever been so odd, so ugly, so crowded, so
forced? Did that terrible madhouse scene in “The Rake’s Progress” ever
really happen? Did God permit such a travesty of love and life as the
“Gin Lane” episode, or such ghastly horrors as “The Four Stages of
Cruelty”? But there were some engravings that the boy thought
infinitely amusing. One was “Time Smoking a Picture,” and another was
the delightful “False Perspective.” The twelve plates of “Industry and
Idleness” fascinated him (he was too young to understand the moral of
“The Harlot’s Progress”), but “A Woman Swearing her Child to a Rich
Citizen” seemed so enigmatically stupid that he never looked at it
again. “The Altar-piece of St. Clement Danes Church” puzzled him. He
knew enough of art to be aware that Hogarth was a strong and powerful
draughtsman. Why, then, had he made and published this silly, weak
illustration of angels and harps? The boy addressed the question to
his uncle, and that gentleman, having perused the accompanying text,
answered, “It was a burlesque of William Kent’s altar-piece.”

Whereupon the boy put the obvious question: “Who was William Kent?”

Uncle was silent, because, like the Master of Balliol on a certain
occasion, he had nothing to say.



IV

WHO WAS WILLIAM KENT?


Who was William Kent? What is the record of the plump, self-satisfied
dandy whose likeness may be seen at the National Portrait Gallery?

     [Illustration: PLATE V.--MARRIAGE À LA MODE

     (In the National Gallery, London)

     Scene II. of this matchless series, the finest pictorial satire
     of the century. It is called “Shortly after Marriage.” We are
     in the peer’s breakfast-room. The clock marks twenty minutes
     after twelve in the morning, the candles beneath the portraits
     of the four saints in the inner room are guttering, a dog
     sniffs at a lady’s cap protruding from the husband’s pocket,
     and the book peeping from the coat of the old steward is called
     “Regeneration.” Hogarth never stayed his hand. The details are
     innumerable, amusing, italicised. What could be more exquisite
     than the characterisation of the lady, her pretty, dissolute,
     provocative face, and the abandon of the peer, too bored and
     tired, after his night’s debauch, even to think of remorse.
     This “pictur’d moral” series, containing six scenes, was
     painted by Hogarth in 1745, and was purchased by Mr. Lane of
     Hillingdon in 1751 for £126.]

Do you like this ruddy round-faced man with the eloquent eye, the
double chin, and the thick lips? His clothes are certainly
attractive--the red velvet turban and the fawn-coloured jacket open at
the front showing the frilled shirt. Bartholomew Dandridge, that
“eminent face painter,” painted this portrait.

Yes; this is a striking presentment of William Kent, 1684-1748, who
had many friends and many enemies. Among the enemies was William
Hogarth, who hated Kent.

When you visit the National Portrait Gallery, turn your gaze slightly
to the left, and you will see the representation of Hogarth at his
easel, painted by himself. What would Hogarth say if he could know
that the portrait of his old enemy now hangs near his? Perhaps he
would smile a welcome, for anger is subdued by Death the Reconciler.

I return to the question: “Who was William Kent?” The legend beneath
his portrait says: “Painter, sculptor, architect, and landscape
gardener.” He was all these and much more--decorator, designer of
furniture, man milliner, arbiter of taste, and general adviser on art
and decoration to the fashionable world. Indeed, the name of William
Kent flings wide the doors of the eighteenth century, which lives in
all its crowded unattractiveness in Hogarth’s unapproachable pictur’d
morals.

Kent lives also in one of Hogarth’s satirical prints, that called “The
Man of Taste, Burlington Gate,” which does not strike me as either
very funny or very cruel. Our taste in satire has changed since
Hogarth’s time. This same Burlington Gate or colonnade, which once
stood outside Burlington House in Piccadilly, may now, I believe, be
found somewhere in the wilds of Battersea Park.

Let us try to draw a little nearer to Kent. The queer thing is that
this man who dominated his world does not seem to have been great in
any of his activities.

As a painter, Hogarth said of him: “Neither England nor Italy ever
produced a more contemptible dauber.” Horace Walpole remarked that his
painted ceilings were as “void of merit as his portraits.” Walpole
also said that “Kent was not only consulted for furniture, frames of
pictures, glass, tables, chairs, &c., but for plate, for a barge, and
for a cradle, and so impetuous was fashion that two great ladies
prevailed on him to make designs for their birthday gowns.”

Did the ladies like their birthday gowns? The petticoat of one was
decorated with the columns of the five orders, the other was
copper-coloured satin with ornaments of gold. I have never seen the
altar-piece Kent painted for the Church of St. Clement Danes in the
Strand, but I seldom pass St. Clement’s without thinking of that
“contemptible performance,” as Hogarth called it.

It seems to have offended many others besides Hogarth, who satirised
the altar-piece in the engraving that puzzled the boy mentioned in the
preceding chapter. Walpole called it a parody, a burlesque on Kent’s
altar-piece. Hogarth maintained that it was neither; that it was but a
“fair and honest representation of a contemptible performance.”
Terrible man, Hogarth, when he was on the war-path!

Where is that altar-piece now? Mr. Wheatly says in his “Hogarth’s
London” that it was “occasionally taken to the Crown and Anchor Tavern
in the Strand for exhibition at the music meetings of the
churchwardens of the parish.”

They had strange enjoyments in the worst-mannered period in our
history.

Poor Kent! I try to plead for him. But it is difficult to be
enthusiastic.

He was chosen to supply (delightful word that, supply!) the statue of
Shakespeare for the Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey. There it
remains. It is no better than the marble effigies in the mason’s
gardens in the Euston Road.

Kent as an architect! There, surely, we have something sure and
admirable. Holkam in Norfolk, Devonshire House in Piccadilly, and the
Horse Guards are stated to be his work. That the Horse Guards from the
park is a noble pile nobody can doubt, but is it all Kent’s? His hand
also may be traced inside Devonshire House. Mr. Francis Lenygon,
Kent’s modern champion, says that the two state apartments in
Devonshire House are “certainly the finest in London, even if they can
be surpassed in any palace in Europe.”

Lord Burlington was Kent’s champion during his lifetime. He met him
when the “arbiter of taste” was thirty-two, and gave him apartments in
his town house, now the Royal Academy, for the remainder of his life.
Kent came through. Hogarth, try as he would, could not wreck him.

He died Master Carpenter to the King and Keeper of Pictures, and he
left a fortune. Kent came through. The man must have had extraordinary
gifts of persuasion and power, hinted at by his biographers when they
speak of his winning manners and gracious ways.

I see nothing of charm in his portrait by Dandridge; but Dandridge was
no psychologist. He looks pompous; Hogarth looks pugnacious; so they
remain in death as in life; but their rivalry is over. Everybody
recognises Hogarth as the “father of English painting”; let us be kind
to Kent, and cherish him as the “father of modern gardening.” Walpole
called him that. The ascription will offend nobody, not even Hogarth.
To that magnificent Londoner gardens were nought except perhaps the
garden of his villa at Chiswick.



V

HOGARTH AS PAINTER


The versatility of Hogarth’s genius is a recurring surprise. His
satires and moralities seem natural, the unforced expression of his
vigorous, observant nature. Natural, too, seem the less inspired of
his portraits, and the Conversation Pieces which employed the early
years of his life; but the technical qualities of the best of his
portraits and groups, and passages in the Progresses, are a recurring
surprise. “The Harlot’s Progress” was finished in his thirty-fourth
year. The paintings of this series “were consumed in the fire which
burnt down Mr. Beckford’s house at Fonthill in 1755,” although there
seems to be some doubt if all six pictures were destroyed.

The Progresses were a development of the Conversation Pieces, of which
“The Wanstead Assembly” was probably the first. This, which is now in
the South London Art Gallery, proves to be “The Dance,” one of the
illustrations to the “Analysis of Beauty.” I confess to finding the
stiff and elegant breeding of these Conversation Pieces more
attractive and certainly more amusing than many of his livelier
scenes. Almost any of the Conversation Pieces could appositely
illustrate a novel by Miss Ferrier. There was one at the Old Masters’
Exhibition of 1910, “The Misses Cotton and their Niece,” quite
accurately described as “four ladies seated near a tea-table, with
their backs to the fireplace; a fifth is standing, and a servant on
the left is bringing a chair for her.” Equally “nice,” I am sure,
were “The Rich Family,” “The Wood Family,” “The Cock Family,” and “The
Jones Family,” and at the opposite pole to the bad Hogarth that was
exhibited in the same room at Burlington House, supposed to be a
memory of his five days’ trip down the river to Sheppey. But it is
unfair to judge Hogarth by “The Disembarkation”: that was a _jeu
d’esprit_, composed of “amusing incidents.”

The Conversation Pieces having novelty, succeeded for a few years. We
esteem them as the ‘prentice work of a man of abounding energy and
versatility, who was as conspicuous for his taste as for his lack of
it. Hogarth seems to have had no particular prepossession towards
beauty, but beauty occurs again and again in his paintings.

The face of the little wanton lady in the second scene of “Marriage à
la Mode” is a delight; some of the heads of his servants are haunting.
Leslie has drawn attention to the exquisite prettiness of Juno in
“Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn,” and Mr. Dion Calthorp has
written a whole charming article on the handsome drummeress of
“Southwark Fair.” Every student of Hogarth must have been struck by
his sudden statements of beauty in ugly places, and of atrocities of
bad taste anywhere. There is an episode in the “Night Scene, Charing
Cross,” that is disgusting, and I confess that the gobbling alderman
in one of the “Industrious Apprentice” series gives me nausea. But he
is never commonplace or feeble. This astonishing man will paint a head
here with the finish of a Terburg, there with the gusto of a Raeburn.

I never seem to get used to his incursions into beauty. The surprise
recurred in Paris at the exhibition of the “Cent Portraits de Femmes.”
I walked round the galleries playing the game of suggesting the names
of the painters without referring to the catalogue. Among the
portraits was one quite small, the head of a girl, fresh as a lark’s
song, an impromptu, a _premier coup_, colour simple, drawing gay. I
ascribed it to Raeburn. It was Hogarth’s “Miss Rich,” owned by M. Max
Michaelis. Then I paused and looked at the other Hogarths. Ah! there
was that rendering, one of the most delightful of his portraits, of
“Peg Woffington,” lent by Sir Edward Tennant, not “dallying and
dangerous” on a couch as in the version at the Garrick Club, but very
charming, with a touch of primness that suits her. Here is Hogarth
as true artist, the vision clear, the treatment direct. Note the
daintiness of the flower in her bosom, the delicious colour of the
dress, and the importance of the accent of the knot of black ribbon
against the gleaming pearls. Oh yes! Hogarth knew his business!

     [Illustration: PLATE VI.--SARAH MALCOLM

     (In the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh)

     A portrait of the notorious Sarah Malcolm, charwoman and
     murderess, who was hanged near Mitre Court, Fleet Street, in
     1733, for a triple murder. She was painted by Hogarth, in the
     condemned cell, two days before her execution. Mrs. Malcolm
     looks rather an attractive if a somewhat cunning matron, and
     her dress is certainly becoming. The painting, in tone and
     characterisation, is very pleasant, and we can forgive her the
     ostentatious display of the rosary.]

He painted Mrs. Woffington eight times. This one, pretty, plain Peg,
with the rose in her corset, is my choice. The other two Hogarths at
the “Cent Portraits de Femmes” exhibition were “Miss Arnold” from the
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, a robust work, forceful and somewhat
heavy, and lacking the naïveté and charm of “Peg Woffington,” and the
notorious “Sarah Malcolm,” charwoman and murderess, who was hanged
near Mitre Court, Fleet Street, on the 7th of March 1733, for a triple
murder. Says Dr. Trusler: “The portrait of this murderess was painted
by Hogarth, to whom she sat for her picture two days before
execution.” Mrs. Malcolm is rather an attractive if a somewhat cunning
matron, and her dress is certainly becoming. The painting, in tone and
quiet characterisation, is very pleasant, and we can forgive her the
ostentatious display of the rosary.

If only it had been possible to send “The Shrimp Girl” to Paris. That
brilliant impressionist sketch, done long before the era of
impressionism, would have astonished the French critics who are not
already acquainted with it. Indeed, “The Shrimp Girl” is something of
a miracle. She cries out from Hogarth’s works, a _tour de force_, done
without premeditation, in some happy hour when the unerring hand
unerringly followed the quick eye. It is an inspiration. One may say
of it as Northcote said of Frans Hals: “He was able to shoot the bird
flying--so to speak--with all its freshness about it, which even
Titian does not seem to have done....” “The Shrimp Girl” was sold at
Mrs. Hogarth’s sale in April 1790 for four pounds ten shillings, and
was purchased for the National Gallery in 1884 for two hundred and
sixty-two pounds ten shillings. After Mr. Sidney Colvin’s eulogy in
_The Portfolio_, one may go to almost any extreme in expressing
admiration for “The Shrimp Girl” and other of Hogarth’s paintings.
Said Mr. Colvin: “Even Reynolds and Gainsborough, colourists often of
an inexpressible loveliness, tenderness, and charm, were fumblers in
their method compared with Hogarth.... Without a school, and without
a precedent (for he is no imitator of the Dutchman), he has found a
way of expressing what he sees with the clearest simplicity, richness,
and directness.”

Simple, rich, and direct is his portrait of “Garrick and his Wife” at
Windsor Castle, a finished epic, quite unlike that lyrical sketch of
“The Shrimp Girl.” “Garrick and his Wife” was painted in 1757, when
Hogarth was sixty. It is a flamboyant, decorative picture. Garrick, in
blue and gold, is seen seated at a table in a moment of inspiration,
pen in hand, cogitating the prologue to Foote’s “Comedy of Taste.” His
wife, in a pink dress and white fichu, stands behind him, preparing to
take the pen from his hand. She is alert and gay, he is invoking the
muse; a charming picture, but if you look closely you will observe
that Garrick’s eyes are coarsely painted, “evidently by another hand.”
Thereby hangs a tale, a typical Hogarthian tale of wars in words, and
in this case in deed too. Hogarth painted Garrick many times,
receiving as much as two hundred pounds for his fine portrait of the
“English Roscius” as Richard III.; but they quarrelled over the
“Garrick and his Wife,” and Hogarth in a fit of irritation drew his
brush across the face, disfiguring the eyes. The picture was never
delivered, never paid for, and on Hogarth’s death his widow generously
gave it to Garrick. It passed into the possession of Mr. Locker of
Greenwich Hospital, who sold it to George IV. In the memoirs of Mr.
Locker’s son is the following passage: “This picture is so lifelike
that as little children we were afraid of it; so much so that my
mother persuaded my father to sell it to George IV.” That is a strange
way for a picture to arrive in a royal collection. The King also owns
the quaint, merry, crowded, landscape conversation-picture called “A
View of the Mall, St. James’s Park,” but this evocation of the _beau
monde_ of the day promenading in cinnamon coats and peach-bloom
breeches, and the ladies in every Chanticler colour and vagary, has
been attributed by some authorities to Samuel Wale, R.A.

Mr. Fairfax Murray is the fortunate owner of “A Fishing Party,” a
small picture, nineteen by twenty-one and a half inches, which shows
that Hogarth, besides his other gifts, was a master in romantic
composition. On the border of a lake sit the fishing party--a charming
lady, a nurse, and a child in the full light, and a reflective
gentleman in the shade. The baby holds the rod, the pretty mother
guides it, and the float toys with the water. I protest that you
rarely if ever see in these days so charming a portrait group
composition as this designed by the Father of English Painting, who
virtually had no forebears, and who turned from one branch of art to
another with something of the ease of myriad-minded Leonardo. I
suspect he studied the grace of Van Dyck’s compositions.

Some of the early Victorian members of the New English Art Club would
find it disadvantageous to pit themselves against the technical
accomplishment of his tight, highly-finished “Lady’s Last Stake.” The
subject is banal, and half-a-dozen Dutchmen could have painted this
interior with more quality of surface and closer observance of light,
but it is “done,” and the paint has not faded and cracked as have so
many works painted two hundred years later.

“The Lady’s Last Stake” was a commission from Lord Charlemont. In
1757, in one of his periodical fits of vexation, Hogarth said he would
“employ the rest of his time in portrait painting,” but three years
afterwards we find him, in weathercock mood, “determined to quit the
pencil for the graver.” Lord Charlemont begged him, before he “bade a
final adieu to the pencil,” to paint him one picture. The result was
this morality of the handsome, wicked officer, and the young and
virtuous married lady. Mrs. Thrale was wont to allege that she sat for
the fair gambler.

“The Stay Maker” should hang beside Watteau’s “Gersaint’s Sign,” each
a representation of a costumier’s shop, each a masterpiece, but as it
is impossible to bring together these two works by these two geniuses
who were contemporaries, and who brought about the rebirth of art in
France and England, I am quite content that “The Stay Maker” should
remain where it is, helping to decorate an exquisite room in Mr.
Edmund Davis’s house. There is only one other picture on the wall--a
Gainsborough portrait. “The Stay Maker” is a sketch, almost in
monochrome, showing a man-milliner measuring a lady, while another
mondaine kisses a baby fondly, but not on its chubby face. This little
picture (thirty-five by twenty-seven inches) is full of life and
gaiety, and is as delicate in its humour as “The Enraged Musician” at
Oxford is forcible.

When I first saw the “George II. and his Family” at the Dublin
National Gallery, I had a thrill similar to that I experienced when I
first saw “Miss Rich.” It is an unfinished sketch, made when Hogarth
was Sergeant Painter. Looking at it, again we wonder what heights this
man might have reached had he received the encouragement that is given
to eminent painters of our day. But, as it was, in spite of
everything, Hogarth boxed the compass, and when he wrote “genius is
nothing but labour and diligence,” the “ingenious Mr. Hogarth,” as
Fielding called him, did not take into account that something else
(which is genius) that was born in him, and that he struggled to
express, and succeeded in expressing so triumphantly. And the end of
all was “The Bathos,” his last design, humorous, cynical, his finis,
inscribed to his old enemies, “the dealers in dark pictures.” Game to
the end was William Hogarth!



VI

SOME PICTURES IN NATIONAL COLLECTIONS


If it interests you to study the variety of Hogarth’s achievement in
paint, his ladder-like progress, now up, now down, visit the Hogarth
Room at the National Gallery and turn from the prim and meticulous
handling of “A Family Group” (No. 1153) to the dash and brilliancy of
his “Sister” (No. 1663); from “Sigismonda Mourning over the Heart of
Guiscardo,” painted late in life, in one of his reactionary, “grand
manner” moods, a commission that the patron, Sir Richard Grosvenor,
refused to take; turn from academic, tear-sprinkled Sigismonda to the
sparkle and impulse of “The Shrimp Girl.” I have already expressed my
admiration for this amazing sketch, and Sir Walter Armstrong, in his
technical analysis of the painting of “Hogarth’s Sister,” has said all
there is to say on the vivacious and original way in which Hogarth
handled this sympathetic subject, and the skill with which he has, as
it were, substituted light and colour for paint. Sir Walter notes that
the system of colour is that followed by Eugene Delacroix a century
later, who was under the impression that he was the innovator; that
“the high lights and the deep shadows are in each case two primaries,
which unite to form a half tone. The dress which produces the effect
of yellow is yellow in the high lights, red in the deepest shadows,
and orange in the transitions; so with the scarf, the three tints
of which are yellow, green, and blue.”

     [Illustration: PLATE VII.--SIMON FRASER, LORD LOVAT, 1666-1747

     (In the National Portrait Gallery, London)

     Here is the chief of the Fraser clan (patriot or traitor, which
     you like), a study in reds, browns, corpulency and craftiness,
     in the act of narrating some of his adventures, or perhaps
     detailing the various Highland clans on his fingers. Lord Lovat
     was executed for high treason. Hogarth journeyed to St. Albans
     to get “a fair view of his Lordship before he was locked up.”]

In no other painting of Hogarth’s that I have seen does he make this
striking use of primaries and complementaries. He adopted a different
technique for the robust and cheerful portrait of “Miss Lavinia
Fenton” (who became Duchess of Bolton) as “Polly Peachum” in the
“Beggar’s Opera,” and also for the lively representation of a scene
from the opera which he saw at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1723. This
vivacious development of the Conversation Piece genre hangs close to
“Hogarth’s Sister,” and to the right is the group of his
“Servants”--six heads rather less than life size, one of the most
quietly beautiful renderings of character, seen with the eyes of
affection, with which master has ever immortalised his dependents.
After this, the “Calais Gate,” or “The Roast Beef of Old England,” a
record of his collision with the Calais authorities, seems grotesque
and gratuitously ugly in spite of its Hogarthian _brio_ and beautiful
colour. The carrion crow on the top of the gate is an example of his
ingenuity in extricating himself from a difficulty. The picture, when
finished, fell down, and a nail ran through the cross above the gate.
Failing to conceal the rent, Hogarth substituted for the cross a
crow, and was quite pleased. In the engraving the cross appears in its
rightful place. Carrion crow or cross! It was all one to this capable,
confident, eighteenth-century Britisher, who would as lief paint a
murderess in the condemned cell as a miss in yellow and laces, a
Teniers-like “Distressed Poet” in a garret as a Velazquez-like “Scene
from The Indian Emperor,” a “Right Reverend Father in God” as the
portrait of Quin the actor, Garrick’s portly rival, in full-bottomed
grey wig, lace ruffle, and brown coat richly frogged with gold. There
can be no mistake as to the identity. The portrait is inscribed “Mr.
Quin.” Note the eloquent eye and the voluble mouth of this hearty
eighteenth-century mummer.

I have kept the most popular of the Hogarth National Gallery pictures
to the last--the famous “Marriage à la Mode” series. The detail of
this “pictur’d moral” is a source of unending interest and pleasure to
an endless procession of visitors. The eighteenth century may have
found in the series a “horrible warning” of the consequences that
follow profligacy in high life, but I am perfectly sure that no one in
the twentieth century deduces any moral from this melodrama in paint.
It is more than that, it is a minute and craftsmanlike record of the
rooms and decorative adjuncts of a wealthy and fashionable man’s house
in Hogarth’s day, with his manner of living pushed almost to
caricature, which was Hogarth’s method of satire and fierce moral
rebuke.

The engravings tell the fatal, foolish story; but to connoisseurs the
quality and clarity of the paint is the thing. What could be more
exquisite than the characterisation of the lady in Scene II., “Shortly
after Marriage,” her pretty, dissolute, provocative face, the abandon
of her figure, and the haplessness of the peer, too bored and tired
after his night’s debauch even to think of remorse. The clock marks
twenty minutes after twelve in the morning, the candles beneath the
portraits of the four saints on the wall of the inner room are
guttering, a dog sniffs at a lady’s cap peeping from the husband’s
pocket, and the book protruding from the coat of the old steward is
titled “Regeneration.” Hogarth never stayed his hand. The details are
innumerable, amusing, italicised. I look and smile quietly, returning
always to the characterisation of those two figures, the husband and
wife, so delicately observed, so exquisitely painted.

In the middle of the wall at the National Gallery, facing the
“Marriage à la Mode” series, painted in the same year when he was
forty-eight, is Hogarth’s own portrait with his dog Trump. Blue-eyed,
watchful, sturdy, wearing a fur cap, with a scar over his left eye, he
has, indeed, “a sort of knowing, jockey look.” He was not a modest
man. Why should he have been? In this portrait he allows himself great
company. The oval rests on three volumes labelled “Shakespeare,”
“Milton,” and “Swift,” and in the lower left corner, drawn on a
palette in the corner, is a serpentine curve with these lines under
it, “The Line of Beauty,” the flaunting inscription which gave rise to
his book, “The Analysis of Beauty.” “No Egyptian hieroglyphic ever
amused more than it [the serpentine curve] did for a time,” he tells
us. The requests for a solution of the enigma were so numerous that he
wrote “The Analysis of Beauty” to explain the symbol. The book,
although shrewd in parts, was a dire failure. “The world of
professional scoffers and virtuosi fell joyously upon its obscurities
and incoherencies.” The obscurities may be divined from the text of
the book, which contains “the not very definite axiom,” as Mr. Dobson
calls it, attributed to Michael Angelo--“that a figure should be
always Pyramidal, Serpentine, and multiplied by one, two, and three.”

I pause to take breath, and refresh myself with an epigram that
Hogarth wrote _apropos_ this ill-starred “solution of the enigma.”

    “What!--a book, and by Hogarth! then twenty to ten,
     All he gain’d by the _pencil_, he’ll _lose_ by the pen.”
    “Perhaps it may be so--howe’er, miss or hit,
     He will publish--_here goes_--_it’s double or quit_.”

It was an old plate of his Portrait with dog Trump, on which the “Line
of Beauty” appears, that he converted into “The Bruiser Charles
Churchill” design, his answer to Churchill’s “most virulent and
vindictive satire,” called “An Epistle to William Hogarth.”

There are three works by him at the National Portrait Gallery--the
early, unimportant “Committee of the House of Commons examining
Bambridge”; the strong self-portrait, “Hogarth Painting the Comic
Muse”; and that specimen of relentless and amusing characterisation,
“Simon, Lord Lovat, painted by Hogarth before his Execution for High
Treason.” Hogarth journeyed to St. Albans to get “a fair view of his
Lordship before he was locked up.” Here is the chief of the Fraser
clan to the life (patriot or traitor, which you like!), a study in
reds, browns, corpulency, and craftiness, in the act of narrating some
of his adventures, or perhaps detailing the various Highland clans on
his fingers. This masterful, pawky Jacobite was tried before his peers
in 1747, found guilty, and beheaded on Tower Hill. We know more of him
from Hogarth’s picture than from a whole book of documents and
descriptions.

And of all self-portraits is there one more self-revealing than
“Hogarth Painting the Comic Muse”? He was then sixty-one. With his
short-cropped grey hair he looks like a pugilist, and a pugilist he
might have been had not Nature, so casual, so inexplicable in her
gifts, chosen to plant the seeds of real artistic genius in the soul
of belligerent, brave, preposterously British William Hogarth.



VII

THE SOANE MUSEUM AND FOUNDLING HOSPITAL


The “Picture Room” of the Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, that
hushed, dim, small apartment, lighted by a lantern light, approached
by a glazed door from the crowded corridor of this dignified house,
crowded to excess with works of art collected by Sir John Soane
(1753-1837), is virtually a Hogarth Room. You enter, and facing you,
hung frame to frame, are the eight paintings illustrating “The Rake’s
Progress,” purchased by Sir John Soane in 1802 for five hundred and
seventy guineas. You turn to the left and your eyes alight upon Nos. 1
and 2 of the “Four Prints of an Election,” called “The Entertainment,”
and “The Canvassing for Votes”; you turn to the right and there are
the second pair, “The Polling,” and “The Chairing of the Member.”

Reams have been written about these pictures. I will be
reticent--space compels it--and content myself with quoting one word,
the word “matchless,” used by Charles Lamb to describe the first of
the Election series. There are passages of beauty in all the scenes,
as in “The Rake’s Progress,” but I find so large a meal as twelve
“pictur’d morals,” hustling each other, a little difficult to digest.
The Hogarth surfeit, a well-known ailment, always assails me in this
lantern-lighted room of the Soane Museum. Perhaps it is the obsession
of the “movable planes.” Opening at a touch, the walls slide away and
disclose more, more, and more works of art. But I do not suffer from
Hogarth surfeit at the Foundling Hospital, over which his fatherly
spirit ever seems to brood.

The eighteenth century and the twentieth meet at the Foundling
Hospital; the art of Hogarth, the art of his contemporaries, of young
Mr. Joshua Reynolds, and the artless lives of the foundlings who
patter the note of a past day in revivified Bloomsbury.

You will seek in vain for modernity at the Foundling Hospital. A
reproduction of a popular picture of our day called “For Ever and
Ever, Amen,” was the only example of a modern work of art in the
playroom of the little girl foundlings at the Foundling Hospital where
I found myself one Sunday.

Of course the little girls understood the picture. Their dawning minds
can grasp a simple representation of the human gamut of love, loyalty,
and grief from childhood to age. Not for them is Hogarth’s forcible,
chaotic, amazingly clever “March to Finchley,” that hangs in one of
the rooms.

But the little girls understand Hogarth’s bold and picturesque
“Captain Coram” displayed in the place of honour, even though the
gallant and charitable seaman may frighten them on darkening evenings
by his very life-likeness, Hogarth’s great gift.

     [Illustration: PLATE VIII.--PEG WOFFINGTON

     (In Sir Edward Tennant’s Collection)

     Delightful Peg, actress, daughter of a Dublin bricklayer, known
     in staid biographies as Margaret Woffington. “Her beauty and
     grace, her pretty singing and vivacious coquetry, and the
     exquisite art, especially of her male characters, carried all
     hearts by storm.” Here she is, not “dallying and dangerous” on
     a couch as in the version at the Garrick Club, but very
     charming, with a touch of primness that suits her. Note the
     daintiness of the flower in her bosom, the delicious colour of
     the dress, and the importance of the accent of the knot of
     black ribbon against the gleaming pearls. Oh yes! Hogarth knew
     his business.]

Captain Coram is very much alive, “all there.” Another moment and he
will start from his chair. But this founder of the hospital will not
shout at the children. This big man had a big, kind heart. His life
was a long whisper of love to the fatherless.

It was here, at the Foundling Hospital, that Hogarth was instrumental
in forming the first public collection of pictures in this country.
Long before the National Gallery was thought of, before the Royal
Academy was born, this Foundling Hospital collection was one of the
sights of London. It was the fashionable lounge in the reign of George
II.; here was held the first exhibition of contemporary portraits. And
Hogarth, a governor and guardian of the Foundling Hospital, originated
it.

He started the collection by presenting this portrait of Captain Coram
in 1740, and he wrote, some years later, that it is “the best portrait
in the place, notwithstanding the first painters in the kingdom
exerted all their talents to vie with it.” But “the first painters”
were not a very mighty lot; they were Allan Ramsay, Cotes, Hudson,
Shackleton, Wilson, Highmore, and a young man called Reynolds, who
twenty years after Hogarth had given his “Captain Coram” presented his
“Lord Dartmouth.” It is a pretty piece of delicate work, but Reynolds
was not then in his prime, and I have a shrewd suspicion that when, in
1787, he produced his magnificent “Lord Heathfield,” great Sir Joshua
had cast many a glance at Hogarth’s “Captain Coram,” painted
forty-seven years before.

This is a problem for the elder foundlings. The mites are content with
“For Ever and Ever, Amen.”

I watched them, after the long service in the chapel, silently and
somewhat timorously enjoying their cold mutton and hot potatoes.
Sullen rows and rows of them, all stamped by that sad something that
characterises the homeless waif, something of degradation and the
menace of the fight to come all uphill.

But as I mused sadly on this spectacle my eyes caught sight of a
tablet on the wall, a list of many names of foundlings who had died
for their country in the Boer War.

Well, the tears do start still sometimes. Think of that leap! Here a
foundling by chance, later a hero by choice, one of that great
brotherhood, equal in death, equally adored, of the privileged and the
brave. “_Dulce et decorum est_----”

I am sure that Hogarth, of whom Dr Trusler wrote, “Extreme partiality
for his native country was the leading trait of his character,” would
approve that tablet, and so would Captain Coram.



VIII

THE “VILLAKIN” AT CHISWICK, AND THE END


The “villakin” at Chiswick where, from 1749, Hogarth spent the
summers, is not very accessible. The most romantic, if the slummiest
route, is to walk from Hammersmith Bridge through riverside alleys and
by sedate Thames terraces to Chiswick Mall. Then turn up through the
village, virtually unspoilt, a lane of old London still treated with
respect. At the beginning of the village the churchyard flanks the
street, and if you look through the gates you will see Hogarth’s
conspicuous, important, and ugly tomb. If you obtain admittance to the
churchyard you will find carved upon the tomb a mask, a laurel
wreath, maul-stick, palette, pencils, the title of his unfortunate
book, “The Analysis of Beauty,” and his epitaph, written by Garrick:--

    “Farewell, great painter of Mankind!
    Who reach’d the noblest point of Art,
    Whose _pictur’d Morals_ charm the Mind,
    And through the Eye correct the Heart.
    If Genius fire thee, Reader, stay:
    If _Nature_ touch thee, drop a Tear;
    If neither move thee, turn away,
    For Hogarth’s honour’d dust lies here.”

I do not think you will drop a tear. I do not think Hogarth’s
“pictur’d morals” will ever correct your heart; but you may in passing
meditate upon the differences in epitaphs throughout the world--this
on Hogarth’s tomb, for example, and that in a German churchyard copied
by a chance pilgrim:--

     “I will awake, O Christ, when Thou callest me, but let me sleep
     a little, for I am very tired.”

Tearless, heart uncorrected, yet you will uncover before the “honour’d
dust” of the Father of English Painting, forthright and forcible, who
endured to the end, and whose name is imperishable. Then you pass on
up Hogarth Lane to the “villakin,” no longer in fields open to the
country and the river, but amidst a multitude of little dwellings and
little streets, noisy with children and the rumble of infrequent
traffic. The narrow, Georgian, red-brick house, the “villakin,” stands
in a garden surrounded by a high wall. There, in the quiet, empty,
memory-haunted house, the spirit of Hogarth may be truly evoked.

This place where the dead live is preserved, tended, and open to the
public through the generosity of Colonel Shipway, who, in 1902,
“presented it to the nation and to the Art World in memory of the
Genius that once lived and worked within its walls.” Happy work, for
in Hogarth’s time Chiswick was fresh and green, and the panelled rooms
of his summer lodging were reposeful, and there was, and is, a
hanging, projecting bay window on the first floor overlooking the
garden, where he would sit and talk with his friends, with Garrick,
and Fielding, and Townley, and plan and scheme diatribes in print and
pencil, and invent pictorial chronicles. The green space is smaller
than it was, and the studio has been pulled down, but the garden is
well tended and secluded. Four of the large trees, including the
hawthorn where the nightingales sang, are gone, but the ancient
mulberry still remains, with the fruit of which Hogarth was wont to
regale the children of rural Chiswick. Gone is the tomb of Pompey the
dog; and the stone with the carving recording the death of Dick the
bullfinch, inscribed with his own hand, “Alas! poor Dick! 1760. Aged
11,” has also disappeared.

The living rooms, one on the ground floor and three on the first
floor, are now hung with engravings of his works--fine proofs, ranging
from his first important essays, the unamusing “Burlington Gate” and
the masterly “Hudibras” series, published before he was thirty, to the
valedictory “Bathos.” To those who know Hogarth only through the
piracies of his engravings and the worn impressions that have been
scattered through the land, these brilliant proofs are a revelation.
Rich, velvety, direct and accomplished in technique, the subjects have
little of the amenities that moderns have been trained to expect in
art-productions of a popular kind. Hogarth knew his own mind and his
public. His moralities, he said, “were addrest to hard hearts. I have
preferred leaving them _hard_, and giving the effect, by a quick
touch, to rendering them languid and feeble by fine strokes and soft
engraving, which require more care and practice than can often be
attained, except by a man of a very quiet turn of mind.”

He was not a man of a “quiet turn of mind.” He was a fighter, and an
artist who never spared himself, and who went straight to his goal
without circumlocution. With a few strokes he could give
lasciviousness to a lip, desire to an eye, scorn and contempt often,
nobility rarely. His Industrious Apprentice is merely bland, merely
smug. But as a technician he was superb within his limits. The plates
bearing the words, “Inscribed, Printed, Engraved and Published by
William Hogarth,” are magnificent. In them Hogarth the artist and
Hogarth the fighter and scorner mingle. I turn from the sentiment of
“The Distressed Poet,” from the force of “The Enraged Musician,” from
the daintiness of the second scene of “Marriage à la Mode,” to the
contempt and scorn of “Portrait of John Wilkes,” and to his amazing
misunderstanding of Rembrandt expressed in his burlesque of his own
“Paul Before Felix,” with this legend: “Design’d and etch’d in the
rediculous manner of Rembrant [the spelling is his own], by William
Hogarth.” But what a man he was! sure of himself, certain of his
power. His original sketches, many of which are at the British Museum,
antedate Rowlandson, whose manner may have been founded on Hogarth.

Enduring to the end, Hogarth busied himself towards the close of his
life retouching and repairing his plates, one of which, “The Bench,”
he was working upon at Chiswick the day before his death. It is said
that he had premonition of a coming breakdown. “Very weak, but
remarkably cheerful,” he was conveyed on October 25, 1764, from
Chiswick to his town house in Leicester Fields, and if _in extremis_
we do see, as in a timeless vision, the run of our past lives, Hogarth
in that jolting journey through eighteenth-century London, an ill man
of sixty-seven, may have recalled the salient scenes of his rushing
life.

There was the memory of his father, school-master and corrector for
the press in Ship Court, Old Bailey, whose little son, great William,
was born in Bartholomew Close and baptized at the church of
Bartholomew the Great. There was his apprenticeship to the
silver-plate engraver Ellis Gamble; the development of his technical
memory for the forms of things; his growing power of swift drawing;
his first prints; his lawsuit against Morris, which was practically to
prove to the world that he was a painter as well as an engraver; his
runaway marriage with the daughter of Sir James Thornhill; the success
of the Progresses; his fight with the pirates; his scorn of
conventional connoisseurship; the visit of this hardened Britisher to
France, where “he pooh-poohed the houses, the furniture, the
ornaments, and in the streets was often clamorously rude”; his
serio-comic arrest at Calais; his progress in art and reputation; the
house in Leicester Fields; his appointment as Sergeant Painter; his
quarrel with Wilkes and Churchill--all the vicissitudes of that full,
fighting, hard-working, outstanding life; and now--is this the last
journey?

“What will be the subject of your next print?” a friend asked Hogarth.

“The End of All Things!” was his reply.

That “Bathos” plate was prophetical.

Well, the journey is over. He has arrived in Leicester Fields. That
night, going to bed, “he was seized with a vomiting, upon which he
rang his bell with such violence that he broke it [that was so like
Hogarth], and expired about two hours afterwards.”

His house, the last but two on the east side of Leicester Square,
became later the smaller half of the Sablonière, or Jaquier’s Hotel.
It is now Archbishop Tenison’s school. From the windows you look down
upon the white bust by Joseph Durham, lean and watchful, that stands
in a corner of modern, spruce Leicester Square.

I should like to see carved upon the bust the characteristic
concluding passage of Hogarth’s disjointed autobiography:--

“This I can safely attest, I have invariably endeavoured to make those
about me tolerably happy, and my greatest enemy cannot say I ever did
an intentional injury: though, without ostentation, I could produce
many instances of men that have been essentially benefited by me. What
may follow, God knows.”

We know what has followed in this world--acknowledgment, admiration,
the title of the Father of British Painting, and the example of a man
who endured to the end, which is the most difficult of all the
enterprises of life. For the end approaches to most of us when we are
weakest. Hogarth broke the bell-rope.





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