The Bench, 1758
William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)
RA Collection: Art
Four judges of the Court of Common Please, engraved (in reverse) by William Hogarth after his own painting (c.1757-8, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge). The main figure (wearing spectacles here although not in the painting) is Sir John Willes (1685-1761), Chief Justice of the Common Pleas.
To the reproduction of his painting Hogarth has added a long text below the image, and a row of caricatures at the top. According to additional text added in this late (presumably posthumous) state Hogarth was working on the caricatures the day before his death, leaving them unfinished. These additions make the image a continuation of Hogarth's theories on the difference between Character (exemplified by Hogarth's judges) and Caricatura (the row of faces above). Hogarth believed that character was the result of great artistic talent but that caricature was 'a Species of Lines that are produc'd rather by the hand of chance than of Skill' and so was necessarily inferior. Hogarth had made a similar distinction in an earlier print, Characters and Caricaturas (17/3433).
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