(Born London, 10 November 1697; died London, 25/26 October 1764). English painter and engraver, the outstanding British artist of his period. During his childhood, his father, a schoolteacher, was imprisoned for debt, and this early experience of the seamy side of life left a deep mark on Hogarth (much of his output is concerned with the contrast between success and failure, and he depicted prisons in several works). He trained as an engraver of silver plate and by 1720 had set up his own business in London, doing various kinds of commercial work. In his spare time he studied painting, first at the St Martin's Lane Academy and later under Sir James Thornhill, whose daughter he married in 1729. By the early 1730s he had achieved some success as a painter of conversation pieces and at about the same time he invented the idea of using a sequence of anecdotal pictures ‘similar to representations on the stage’ to point a moral and satirize social abuses.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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