In his didactic series, Industry and Idleness, William Hogarth compares the fate of an industrious apprentice to an idle one. The industrious apprentice eventually rises in society to become Lord Mayor of London. The idle apprentice, on the other hand, indulges in his vices, a lifestyle that is shown to be dangerous as he is eventually punished with death. Hogarth's main concern is with morals and the instruction of the young people of his times. Whereas Reynolds wanted the artist to be identified with the aristocracy, Hogarth's work appeals to audiences of the lower and middle classes. Hogarth's realistic and arguably caricatured depictions of his subjects are a departure from idealism and classical subjects. In the image, the "Idle 'Prentice returned from Sea, & in a Garrett with a common Prostitute," Hogarth's detailed presentation of the crude and ugly is a feature that influences Hunt's Awakening Conscience and Millais's Christ in the House of His Parents.

Question

Who is Hogarth's primary audience? The apprentices themselves, the masters in the workshops, the members of the middle class? To whom are the inscriptions directed?

In what setting would this type of art be displayed?

Why would this kind of art appeal to members of the middle class?

Compared to the styles of his contemporaries, would Hogarth's prints be considered highly sophisticated or crude and unpolished?

How would Hogarth's rejection of Neoclassical ideals of beauty have been received?

Hogarth, Hunt and Millais all employ ugly and grotesque elements, but how do they function differently?


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Last modified 14 September 2004