"Excessive laughter, oftener than any other, gives a sensible face a silly or disagreeable look, as it is apt to form regular pain lines about the mouth, like a parenthesis, which sometimes appears like crying." (Hogarth, William, The Analysis of Beauty, 1753).
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Line of beauty
In the preface Hogarth explains that The Analysis of Beauty grew out of his need to justify his aesthetic commentaries on a "line of beauty" in art. This line had appeared on the palette in the corner of his self portrait of 1745. Lines with too shallow a curve are described as "mean and poor". Lines with too generous a curve are described as "gross and clumsy". Variety is symbolized by a wavy line in twodimensions and a serpentine line in three dimensions, as opposed to unvarying geometrical shapes like straight lines and circles
Respect for nature
Hogarth writes that artists should turn from studying paintings to nature. He opposes the artificial. He does not recommend copying. Previous art treatises had paid much attention to style, artistic manners and schemata. Hogarth urges the artist "to see objects truly", "to see with our own eyes".
From the Book:
"If the uniformity of figures, parts, or lines were truly
the chief cause of beauty, the more exactly uniform
their appearances were kept, the more pleasure the eye
would receive: but this is so far from being the case,
that when the mind has been once satisfied, that the
parts answer one another, with so exact an uniformity,
as to preserve to the whole the character of fitness to
stand, to move, to sink, to swim, to fly, &c. without
losing the balance: the eye is rejoiced to see the object
turn'd and shifted, so as to vary these uniform appearances.
regularity, uniformity, or symmetry
please only as they serve to give the idea of fitness"
On Hair/ Intricacy
"The most amiable in itself is the flowing curl; and the many waving
and contrasted turns of naturally intermingling locks ravish
the eye with the pleasure of the pursuit especially
when they are put in motion by a gentle breeze.
The poet knows it, as well as the painter, and has described
the wanton ringlets waving in the wind.
And yet to shew how excess ought to be avoided in
intricacy, as well as in every other principle, the very
same head of hair, wisped and matted together, would
make the most disagreeable figure; because the eye
would be perplex'd, and at a fault, and unable to trace
such a confused number of uncomposed and entangled lines"
The Analysis of Beauty, Plate 1
From The Art Of Print:
Famous for his paintings, Hogarth's engravings are even more paramount: the imagery from The Harlot's Progress, Marriage a la Mode, The Four Stages of Cruelty, Four Prints of an Election, The Four Times of the Day and a host of others are crucial to an understanding of eighteenth century art and culture. Yet Hogarth's art stretched beyond his time and his masterful engravings are as relevant to our society as they were to his.
Training first as an engraver, Hogarth became an independent illustrator as early as 1720. In his spare time he studied painting techniques, notably under Sir James Thornhill. By 1730 he established himself as a portrait painter. Yet at the same time Hogarth began creating sets of anecdotal pictures which brilliantly satirized society and its activities. The first such set, A Harlot's Progress (1732), gained for Hogarth a strong and lasting national reputation. During the following decades he both painted and engraved individual works and sets of images which forged the cornerstone for English satirical art. Such great masters as Rowlandson, Gillray, Heath and Cruikshank followed in Hogarth's footsteps.
Analysis of Plate 1.