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Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century$
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Rebecca Anne Barr, Sylvie Kleiman-Lafton, and Sophie Vasset

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526127051

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526127051.001.0001

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Rotund bellies and double chins: Hogarth’s bodies

Rotund bellies and double chins: Hogarth’s bodies

Chapter:
(p.252) 12 Rotund bellies and double chins: Hogarth’s bodies
Source:
Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century
Author(s):

Frédéric Ogée

Publisher:
Manchester University Press
DOI:10.7228/manchester/9781526127051.003.0013

In his choice of subjects as in his painting technique, William Hogarth’s rendering of ‘life’ is remarkable for its tangible physicality. Be it for the materiality of its settings or for the variety of human characters, his pictures try to offer some kind of total ‘show’, with a view to representing Nature ‘as it is’ and in action, in opposition to the rarefied delusions of ‘high’ art which tended to show it as it ought to be, and ‘abstracted’. While some forms were certainly more ‘polite’ than others, a true representation of mankind had to allow for the presence of all its specimens. By composing ‘modern history paintings’ in which the most elegant forms converse with the plainest lines, Hogarth endowed variety with a new epistemological and aesthetic status that meant the inclusion of the ones and of ‘the others’. In all his pictures, it is always the human body which, from painful distortions to graceful curves, endows his art with its textural, formal and rhythmic qualities. Hogarthian beauty and grace, far from being abstract concepts, emerge as transient, “living”, physical phenomena, apprehended by the beholder through visual representations of the bodies’ natural and ‘peculiar’ movements.

Keywords:   Hogarth, Nature, British Art, Beauty, Truth

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