Art: Mere Cartoonist?

London was staging a show of Hogarths last week that would have pleased the old 18th Century painter-engraver pink. Instead of featuring the satiric, story-telling picture series (Harlot's Progress, Rake's Progress, Marriage a la Mode, etc.) which made him famous in his lifetime, the show was crammed with the portraits of prominent folk and the sprawling historical canvases which Hogarth himself considered his finest and most important work.

The cross William Hogarth had to bear was that he simply did not impress his contemporaries as a serious painter. His colors were too fresh, his...

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