William Hogarth Galleries
Early satirical works included an Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scheme (c.1721), about the disastrous stock market crash of 1720 known as the South Sea Bubble, in which many English people lost a great deal of money. In the bottom left corner, he shows Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish figures gambling, while in the middle there is a huge machine, like a merry-go-round, which people are boarding. At the top is a goat, written below which is "Who'l Ride" and this shows the stupidity of people in following the crowd in buying stock in The South Sea Company, which spent more time issuing stock than anything else. The people are scattered around the picture with a real sense of disorder, which represented the confusion. The progress of the well dressed people towards the ride in the middle shows how foolish some people could be, which is not entirely their own fault.
Other early works include The Lottery (1724); The Mystery of Masonry brought to Light by the Gormogons (1724); A Just View of the British Stage (1724); some book illustrations; and the small print, Masquerades and Operas (1724). The latter is a satire on contemporary follies, such as the masquerades of the Swiss impresario John James Heidegger, the popular Italian opera singers, John Rich's pantomimes at Lincoln's Inn Fields, and the exaggerated popularity of Lord Burlington's prot??g??, the architect and painter William Kent. He continued that theme in 1727, with the Large Masquerade Ticket. In 1726 Hogarth prepared twelve large engravings for Samuel Butler's Hudibras. These he himself valued highly, and are among his best book illustrations.
In the following years he turned his attention to the production of small "conversation pieces" (i.e., groups in oil of full-length portraits from 12 to 15 in. high). Among his efforts in oil between 1728 and 1732 were The Fountaine Family (c.1730), The Assembly at Wanstead House, The House of Commons examining Bambridge, and several pictures of the chief actors in John Gay's popular The Beggar's Opera.
One of his masterpieces of this period is the depiction of an amateur performance of John Dryden's The Indian Emperor, or The Conquest of Mexico (1732?C1735) at the home of John Conduitt, master of the mint, in St George's Street, Hanover Square.
Hogarth's other works in the 1730s include A Midnight Modern Conversation (1733), Southwark Fair (1733), The Sleeping Congregation (1736), Before and After (1736), Scholars at a Lecture (1736), The Company of Undertakers (Consultation of Quacks) (1736), The Distrest Poet (1736), The Four Times of the Day (1738), and Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn (1738). He may also have printed Burlington Gate (1731), evoked by Alexander Pope's Epistle to Lord Burlington, and defending Lord Chandos, who is therein satirized. This print gave great offence, and was suppressed (some modern authorities, however, no longer attribute this to Hogarth).
The Graham Children
National Gallery, London