The Analysis Of Beauty. Written with a view of fixing the fluctuating Ideas Of Taste. - By William Hogarth. - [Epigraph] - A New Edition. -

William Hogarth

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed by W. Strahan, for Mrs. Hogarth, And Sold by her at her House in Leicester-Fields,, MDCCLXXII.

Physical Description

xxi, [3], 153, [3] p., frontis., 2 pl. (fold.); [first copy] 260 mm.; [second copy] 268 mm. (Quarto).


[Frontis., t.p.] - Preface - Contents - Figures referred to in the Book; Advertisement - Introduction - [Textand pl.] - [Advertisement, 'Prints Published by the late W. Hogarth: Genuine Impressions of which are to be had of Mrs. Hogarth...'].

Responsibility Note

The frontispiece is signed as 'design'd & Etch'd by Wm. Hogarth Decem 1. 1753.' The plates are signed as 'Designed, Engraved, and Publish'd by Wm. Hogarth, March 5th 1753'.


R. Simon, Hogarth, France and British art (2007); S. E. Read, 'Some observations on William Hogarth's Analysis of Beauty. A bibliographical study', in Huntington Lib. Q., V (1941-2), p. 360-73; J. Burke, Hogarth and Reynolds: a contrast in English art theory (1943).
ESTC, T162624

Summary Note

This work was originally published in 1753 (and the frontispiece and two plates carry the date of 1753). It appeared in German in 1754, in Italian in 1761, and in French in 1805.

Hogarth was much concerned to promote the development of painting in Britain, but disinclined to look to ancient or continental models, or to rely on royal patronage for its advancement. Moreover, he declared that practitioners are better qualified than 'mere men of letters' to understand the beauties of art. Here he claims that grace is found in compositions using a 'serpentine line', and may be achieved by studying Nature rather than antiquity or academic authority. He speaks of the 'poco più' - a phrase reminiscent of the earlier 'je ne sais quoi'.

Hogarth's theories were critically addressed by other artists, including Allan Ramsay and Sir Joshua Reynolds.


An edition of Hogarth's Analysis of beauty edited with introduction and notes by R. Paulson was published in 1997 (New Haven and London, Yale UP).


Recorded in RAA Library, Catalogue, 1802.

Copy Note

[First copy:] Imperfect: lacks the frontis. and Plate 1.

Binding Note

[First copy:] 18th-century mottled calf; rebacked in 20th century, retaining original spine-piece and red morocco spine-label lettered 'Analysis Of Beauty'.

[Second copy:] 20th-century half calf, marbled-papered boards; spine lettered 'Hogarth Analysis Of Beauty', 'R.A.' and '1722'.


Beauty - Aesthetics - Taste (aesthetics) - Theory
Treatises - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century


Mrs. Jane Hogarth, publisher, bookseller
William Strahan, printer
William Hogarth, draughtsman, engraver

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