Characters and Caricaturas, 1743
William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)
RA Collection: Art
William Hogarth, who disparaged caricature as a fashionable genre imported from the continent and based on distortion, made this print to demonstrate the difference (as he saw it) between 'character' in history painting, as demonstrated by Raphael, and 'caricature' by P.L. Ghezzi and Leonardo. The reference is to the introduction to Henry Fielding's novel Joseph Andrews, which discusses the same theme with reference to Hogarth.
This engraving served as the subscription ticket for Hogarth's set of prints Marriage-a-la-Mode- this impression has been made out to Thomas Herring, Archbishop of York at the time and later Archbishop of Canterbury. Hogarth painted Herring the same year, and later had the portrait engraved by Bernard Baron (see 06/3322 and 17/3693) although the portrait did not meet with the sitter's approval. Elizabeth Einberg writes that 'how Hogarth came by this commission [to paint Herring] is not known', but the fact of Herring's subscription suggests that an existing admiration for Hogarth's work may have been involved. Either that, or perhaps having already committed to having his portrait painted by Hogarth Herring may have decided to subscribe to Marriage a-la-Mode as a gesture of support for the artist. Hogarth has filled in Herring's name and the date of subscription, then signed his name and added his red palette-and-brushes seal in the bottom corner.
After the print had served its purpose as a subscription ticket, the receipt was removed from the bottom of the plate so that additional images could be printed and sold independently. This was the case for many of Hogarth's subscription tickets, which were often popular enough to sustain a secondary market as standalone prints.
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