William Hogarth’s Innovations in the London Print Market

Garner, Emilie, Art History - Art Department, University of Virginia
Fordham, Douglas, ARTD, University of Virginia

William Hogarth, one of the first English artists to achieve international recognition, enjoyed great popularity throughout his career and posthumously. This acclaim is quite remarkable considering Hogarth’s modest upbringing, informal artistic training, and creation of works that often went against traditional standards of high art. The contemporary subjects frequently depicted by Hogarth were not only seen as disreputable, but most of his modern moral subjects critiqued the very echelons of society he sought to gain respect from.

Hogarth’s popularity and success can largely be attributed to his variation across different production techniques, genres of high and low art, and intended audience. An understanding of the rigid systems that shaped fine taste and high art in eighteenth-century England, however, raises the question: how was Hogarth able to accrue such wide success within all corners of the English art market? This thesis aims to demonstrate that Hogarth’s success depended upon innovative business strategies and marketing techniques. As a Media Studies and Art History Major, this thesis examines Hogarth’s success through the lens of an urbanized London and developing print market, and the marketing tactics and aesthetic considerations employed by Hogarth to successfully capture this market.

BA (Bachelor of Arts)
William Hogarth, Eighteenth-Century England, Prints, Print Market, Marketing
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