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Professor Paulson examines how Hogarth uses images of children and animals (as symbols of innocence) in his work. To begin with, these images of innocence appear as small, socially acceptable disru...ptions in scenes of otherwise strict social order. Even in this form they imply social criticism but in his later work, Hogarth's personal disgust at "a corrupt society's treatment of innocence" becomes overt - the innocents are themselves corrupted and finally (as in Marriage a la Mode) destroyed. Professor Paulson points out that Hogarth's own childhood experiences seem to have fuelled his obsessions with innocence and corruption, prison and society. In later life Hogarth contributed to the upkeep of the Captain Coram Foundling home, which still houses one of his most powerful images of innocence and corruption - The March to Finchley. Finally, Professor Paulson identifies The Shrimp Girl as Hogarth's quintessential portrait of uncornrpted innocence although the painting's style reveals Hogarth's bitter view that innocence is ephemeral.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A204, The Enlightenment
Item code: A204; 04
First transmission date: 10-04-1980
Published: 1980
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:22:43
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Producer: Tony Coe
Contributor: Ronald Paulson
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Painting; Rake's Progress
Subject terms: Hogarth, William, 1697-1764
Footage description: Ronald Paulson, Professor of English Literature at Yale University, presents the programme from the studio. He starts by contrasting an early Hogarth conversation picture, The Wollaston Family, with the life-size, formal portraits painted by Van Dyck and Lely. He argues that Hogarth deliberately rejected traditional portraiture and drew instead upon the work of Dutch artists such as Steen, whose dissolute Family is shown. Shots of Hogarth's works The Wolaston Family, the Cholmondeley Family and Modern Midnight Coversation. Taking each in turn, Paulson shows how Hogarth uses dogs and children to comment on the behaviour or character of the adults who form the main subjects of the works. Paulson identifies another group of Hogarth paintings, those that attack well-known public figures in a comic manner. He uses The Denunciation as an example of such works. He explains the role of the child and the dog in the picture. Paulson gives other instances where dogs are used to parody adults, as in the Rake's Progress and and Marriage a la Mode. The role of the child in two works, The Christening and The Conquest of Mexico is examined in some detail. Paulson discusses the informality of Hogarth's paintings, using the portrait of Captain Coram as an example. Roubiliac's statue of Handel is shown as another example of informality in art. Another of Hogarth's informal works, The Beggar's Opera, is examined in some detail. Paulson explains how the painting accurately reflects the spirit of John Gay's opera. He also comments on the role of images of innocence in Hogarth's works. Shots of Hogarth's Self Portrait with Pug, then of his ironical version of it, Bruiser, that attacked Charles Churchill. Paulson comments on the role of the dog in these works. Using several examples he describes Hogarth's use of children as symbols of innocence. Shots of The Beggar's Opera over which Paulson explains how Hogarth uses both leading and secondary figures in his compostions to satirise contemporary society. The series The Progress of a Harlot is shown, he comments on each work, explaining the significance of various figures and actions that are depicted. In particular he concentrates on the use made of animals as symbols of innocence. Paulson explains the significance of the fact that many of Hogarth's children appear imprisoned, various illustrations are shown. Paulson briefly describes Hogarth's own childhood. He explains Hogarth's antipathy towards prisons, which is expressed in the painting Committee at Fleet. The sequence Marriage a la Mode is examined. Paulson explains the narrative of the paintings, concentrating on Hogarth's use of children. Paulson next turns to Hogarth's paintings of The Good Samaritan and Christ and the Pool of Bethesda. He explains how the works represent Hogarth's views and his own successful career. Shots of The March to Finchley. Paulson comments on the depiction of the soldiers in the work and on its theme of homelessness. Finally, he comments briefly on the innocence depicted in the painting of The Shrimp Girl.
Production number: FOUA004J
Videofinder number: 1897
Available to public: no