William Hogarth (1697–1764), one of the most acclaimed British artists, created iconic works that capture urban life in Georgian London. Fiercely independent, Hogarth was driven to innovate and developed new genres and modes of expression in his painting, printmaking, and drawing in an effort to elevate the status of British art. Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor features the Morgan’s exceptional cache of six sheets preparatory for two of Hogarth’s most revered print series, both issued in February 1751: Beer Street and Gin Lane, and the Stages of Cruelty. Bringing together the extant drawings related to these series, the exhibition explores Hogarth’s working method and examines his use of satire in agitating for social reform. The story of the creation, dissemination, and impact of Hogarth’s images reveals an artist who addressed the ills and injustices of life in a modern metropolis.
Hogarth: Cruelty and Humor is made possible with generous support from Joshua W. Sommer and Alyce Williams Toonk, and with assistance from the Alex Gordon Fund for Exhibitions and Raphael and Jane Bernstein.