Tate Britain  Linbury Galleries
7 February – 29 April 2007

The most comprehensive exhibition for over thirty years of the leading eighteenth-century artist, William Hogarth (1697-1764), opens at Tate Britain on 7 February 2007. No other artist’s work has come to define a period of British history as powerfully and enduringly as that of Hogarth. He was also greatly admired and collected on the international stage, influencing a broad range of artists across the centuries, including Greuze, Goya, the Pre-Raphaelites, Whistler and Hockney. The exhibition incorporates the full range of Hogarth’s work, highlighting his unique contribution to the development of modern British art.

The exhibition includes over 200 works and showcases every aspect of Hogarth’s multi-faceted career: his remarkable paintings, ranging from elegant conversation pieces to salacious brothel scenes; his vibrant drawings and sketches; and the numerous engraved works for which he is perhaps most famous today, including Gin Lane and Beer Street (both 1751). Hogarth includes a large number of major loans from private and public collections around the world, such as David Garrick as Richard III (1745) from the Walker Art Gallery, The Rake’s Progress (1734) and Election series (1754) from the Sir John Soane’s Museum, Marriage A-la-Mode (1743-5), The Shrimp Girl (1740-5) and The Graham Children (1742) from the National Gallery, London, Captain Thomas Coram (1740) and The March to Finchley (1749-50) from the Foundling Museum and Before and After (both c.1731) from the J. Paul Getty Museum. To these will be added iconic works from the Tate Collection including The Painter and his Pug (1745), Heads of Six of Hogarth’s Servants (1750-5) and O, the Roast Beef of Old England (Calais Gate) (1748).

The exhibition examines the whole of Hogarth’s life and work, from his beginnings as a young and ambitious engraver in the 1720s, through to his rise to fame and fortune in the 1730s and 1740s, and on to the controversial years of the 1750s and early 1760s. Hogarth is both broadly chronological and themed in structure, each gallery functioning as an in-focus introduction to a genre of painting, such as portraiture and conversation pieces, or to a single work, such as Marriage A-la-Mode, or to a group of similarly themed works, such as Industry and Idleness (1747) and The Stages of Cruelty (1751).

In telling this story, the exhibition not only examines an individual artist, but also provides a fresh look at the world of British art in the first half of the eighteenth century. Hogarth - which will include painted and graphic works by other leading contemporary artists - will highlight the themes and issues that preoccupied painters and engravers in the period, and reveal how these artists responded to the important cultural and social developments of Georgian Britain. In doing so,the exhibition will explore an artist, and an art-world, that were strikingly modern in character, confronting subjects and themes – the city, sexuality and behaviour, social integration, crime, political corruption, charity and patriotism– that continue to preoccupy us today. The exhibition will argue that Hogarth was in fact Britain’s first truly modern artist, and suggest the relevance of his work to British art now. Works by living contemporary artists including Diary of a Victorian Dandy series (1998) by Yinka Shonibare and The Betrothal: Lessons: The Shipwreck, after ‘Marriage a la Mode’ by Hogarth (1999) by Paula Rego will also be displayed.

The exhibition is curated by Christine Riding, Curator of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Art at Tate Britain and Mark Hallett, Professor of History of Art at the University of York. It is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue published by Tate Publishing (softback £29.99, hardback £40.00). The exhibition opens at the Musée du Louvre, Paris (18 October 2006-7 January 2007) and after Tate Britain travels to La Caixa Forum, Madrid (28 May-26 August 2007).

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