Enfilade

Exhibition | Prints of Darkness: Goya and Hogarth

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on July 21, 2018

Left: Francisco José  de Goya y Lucientes, Bobalicón (Silly Idiot), detail, 1864 (Manchester Art Gallery). Right: William Hogarth, The Enraged Musician, detail, 1741 (The Whitworth, The University of Manchester).

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Now on view at The Whitworth:

Prints of Darkness: Goya and Hogarth in a Time of European Turmoil
The Whitworth, The University of Manchester, 7 July 2018 — August 2019

Curated by Gillian Forrester

Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746–1828) and William Hogarth (1697–1764) were the most remarkable artists of their times. Both were extremely successful portrait and history painters, but arguably their most compelling works were the uncommissioned prints they made with dazzling technical virtuosity, using line-engraving (Hogarth) and a combination of etching and aquatint (Goya). Whilst the artists were not working contemporaneously—Hogarth was fifty years old when Goya was born and died twenty years later—and never met, Goya was almost certainly familiar with Hogarth’s prints, and there are strong affinities between their works. Hogarth and Goya were both outsiders who cast their candid gazes on their dysfunctional societies. Poverty, homelessness, warfare, violence, cruelty, sexual abuse and human trafficking, social inequity, political corruption, racism, superstition, hypocrisy, rampant materialism, nationalism, mental illness, and alcoholism: all were subjected to their forensic scrutiny and no topic was off-limits. Simultaneously attractive and repellent, these challenging prints provoke a spectrum of responses, including shock, discomfort, laughter, and empathy, raising profound questions about the ethics of representation and viewing. The scenarios that they unflinchingly depicted are troublingly familiar to the contemporary viewer, eliciting an embarrassed contemplation of their own society, and themselves.

This exhibition features 100 prints by Goya and Hogarth, selected from the stellar collections at the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery. Although both artists are celebrated and represented in museum collections throughout the world, this is the first exhibition to consider Hogarth and Goya in tandem, providing an opportunity to compare their extraordinary graphic work. The exhibition will feature 50 prints by Hogarth, all drawn from the Whitworth’s collection. Bookended by the South Sea Bubble and his final print, the Bathos, which he published the year he died, the selection includes the serial works—The Rake’s Progress, Marriage a-la Mode, the Times of the Day, and the Four Stages of Cruelty—as well as single prints, including his emblems of British national identity, O The Roast Beef of Old England (Calais Gate) and the Enraged Musician. A fine impression of the engraving of Hogarth’s self-portrait with his pug, Trump, has been lent by Andrew Edmunds. Drinking culture was a pervasive theme in Hogarth’s work, and Gin Lane, Beer Street, and A Midnight Modern Conversation will be included, accompanied by a Hogarth-themed punchbowl made in Liverpool in 1748. The exhibition will feature 50 prints by Goya, including impressions from all the four series, as well as two etchings made early in his career in 1778, Margaret of Austria and Moenippus Menipo Filosofo.

The exhibition is timely, as it takes place during the troubled run-up to Britain’s exit from the European Union, scheduled for 29 March 2019, and the accompanying fractious debates currently taking place in Europe and elsewhere regarding national identity. Hogarth and Goya both lived through extended periods of warfare with France, and Hogarth claimed to hate the French, although he was a frequent visitor to Paris and hired French engravers for his print series Marriage a-la Mode. Angry, troubled, and ambivalent, Hogarth seems to embody the tortured mind-set of Britain on the eve of Brexit.

The exhibition is organized by Gillian Forrester, Senior Curator of Historic Fine Art at the Whitworth.

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