The Four Times of the Day

Method Copper engraving
Artist after William Hogarth
Published Invented and Painted by Wm. Hogarth [Robert Sayer. London, 1767]
Dimensions Images 320 x 235 mm, Plates 355 x 250 mm, Sheets 445 x 280 mm
Notes A set of 4 reduced engravings after Hogarth's The Four Times of the Days, exploring London at different times of the day and year, from Robert Sayer's Les Satyres de Guillaume Hogarth Oeuvre Moral et Comique. The plates for Les Satyres were likely engraved by John June, and published by Sayer under the auspices of Jane Hogarth, who had been granted copyright over her late husband's works by Act of Parliament.

The paintings upon which the engravings were based were originally executed by Hogarth for the Vauxhall supper-boxes. Although issued as a series, unlike Hogarth's Progress types, the Four Times of the Day was intended to highlight contrasts and contradictions rather than a moral narrative, focussing instead on the comparison of class and character in various parts of London. As Paulson comments, in form the series take some inspiration from earlier allegorical series, the pastoral scenes replaced or subverted by scenes of the town, and with Hogarth's characters acting as parodies of traditional allegorical figures. With some slight variations in word order or abbreviation, all four plates feature the publication line 'Invented, Painted, Engrav'd, & Publish'd by Wm. Hogarth March 25 1738, according to Act of Parliament.' Below the publication line, each plate carries a large inscription of the time of day, as below.

Morning: A cold, mid-winter morning in Covent Garden. The central figure, a skinny elderly woman so frigid that she alone seems unaware of the bitter chill, is a strong contrast to the traditional warm maidenly figure of Aurora one would expect in a scene of morning. Her servant, a small boy, carries her prayer-book as they make their way towards the facade of Inigo Jones' St Pauls, his attitude one of utmost discomfort due to the cold. Before the old woman, a group of young wastrels grope each other near a beggar and a washer-woman, who warm themselves by an open fire. Behind them, a fight has broken out in Tom King's Coffee House. Above the street, the clock-face of the church is surmounted by the winged figure of Time, carrying a scythe and hourglass, the common symbols of the transience of life. The inscription below reads 'Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.'

Noon: At midday, a group of well-groomed French refugees file out of the Huguenot Chapel off the Charing Cross Road. The well turned out man, woman, and child are contrasted with the English group across the street. Here, before the Baptist's Head pub, a black man fondles the breasts of a washerwoman. The boy before her has cracked the plate holding his dinner, spilling it onto the cobblestones, where an urchin girl picks through it. The street is physically divided in two by a gutter, bridged only by the carcass of a dead cat, and invites a clear contrast between the orderly, well-dressed French Huguenots and the unruly natives of the parish of St Giles in the Fields, the spire of which appears in the background.

Evening: The scene now switches to mid-summer heat, as a married couple take an evening stroll in the countryside at Saddler's Wells. The visibly exhausted husband holds a small child in his arms, his rotund wife cast in the character of a scold. Behind them, a young boy is bawling, his sister likewise scolding him and holding her closed fan in a threatening fashion. The scene is one of languid heat. The dog before the couple looks down at the cool water, while the cow behind them idly flicks its tail. The position of the cow's head serves to crown the husband with horns, perhaps insinuating that he has been cuckolded by his wife, or, as Paulson suggests, that he is made an unlikely Actaeon to an even more unlikely Diana. In addition to the publication line, this plate alone has in its right bottom corner 'Engraved by B. Baron, Price 5 Shillings.'

Night: Night has fallen and the scene shows the area of Rummer Court, looking north towards Charing Cross and the bronze equestrian statue of Charles I. The statue is significant, as the bonfires and chaplets of oak suggest the Jacobite celebration of 'Restoration Day.' The central characters, a drunk Freemason and the doorman of his lodge, make their way past a large bonfire, which has upset the passage of a stagecoach, the 'Salisbury Flyer.' The outraged travellers of the coach are accosted by a pair of louts. To the left of the central pair, a family sleep under a makeshift trestle below the open window of a barber-surgeon's shop. The shop's sign advertises 'Shaving Bleeding & Teeth Drawn wth a Touch' and a client, with a look of consternation, is being shaved with a strait razor. The Freemason, still dressed in his regalia, is doused in the contents of a chamber pot, which a woman's arm flings from a second-storey window. The usual identification of this central character is Sir Thomas De Veil, a Bow Street magistrate infamous for his enforcing of the Gin Act, and a member of Hogarth's own Lodge.

William Hogarth (1697 - 1764) was born in London, the son of an unsuccessful schoolmaster and writer from Westmoreland. After apprenticeship to a goldsmith, he began to produce his own engraved designs in about 1710. He later took up oil painting, starting with small portrait groups called conversation pieces. He went on to create a series of paintings satirising contemporary customs, but based on earlier Italian prints, of which the first was The Harlot's Progress (1731), and perhaps the most famous The Rake's Progress. His engravings were so plagiarised that he lobbied for the Copyright Act of 1735, commonly referred to as 'Hogarth's Act,' as a protection for writers and artists. During the 1730s Hogarth also developed into an original painter of life-sized portraits, and created the first of several history paintings in the grand manner.

Condition: Excellent impressions with full margins. Minor scuffing and surface dirt to margins.
Framing unmounted
Price £600.00
Stock ID 46263

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