Hogarth's place in the Pre-Raphaelite movement was in retrospect unique and distinct as he influenced many artists after his time, namely Hunt, who later created the PRB. He was however, according to his contemporaries, an ordinary artist during his lifetime (Landow). Hogarth specialized in realistic paintings in which there was an allegorical and frequently a biblical message embedded within the painting. In Hogarth's Industry and Idleness, he paints a scene in which two apprentices work at their looms, one is productive and the other is not. Verses from the scriptures under each apprentice clearly illustrate the message that Hogarth wanted to bring forth: diligence will bring wealth and laziness brings ruin. There are many questions which arise from such a direct method of allegorical reasoning, some of which I will consider:


1. Why do you think it was important for Hogarth to illustrate his painting with a verse from the scriptures in Industry and Idleness? In your opinion, would the painting have been more influential had he left the explication of it to the viewer?

2. What type of lighting is used in the painting? Do you think Hogarth intended on using lighting and placement of the apprentices as a method upon which his intended symbolism could be extended?In other words, why is the inefficient apprentice in the dark, whereas the productive one directly in the path of the light from the window?)

3. Is there a purpose behind the placement of the animal next to the lazy apprentice and not the dutiful one? Why is there such a stark differentiation between the expressions of the two apprentices? Why did Hogarth choose to make large distinctions in his painting (such as facial countenances and scriptures) as opposed to using subtleties?

4. How was Hogarth an influential figure in the Pre-Raphaelite movement? Why were his symbolic methods of painting accepted by Hunt and other members of the PRB? What styles and methods did Hunt and later PRB members adopt from Hogarth?

5. What is the purpose of the guard who is peering into the room with a weapon in his hand? What purpose does he serve in the painting? Are there any anti-aristocratic elements in this painting? What is work perceived as: a burden or a dignified exercise?

Victorian Web Homepage Visual Arts Victorian Painting William Hogarth

Last modified 14 September 2004