On my bookshelf | The Other Hogarth: The Aesthetics of Difference - Museums Association

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On my bookshelf | The Other Hogarth: The Aesthetics of Difference

Fanning the flames for Hogarth's love language
Rosanna Harrison
Detail of Marriage à-la-mode (The Marriage Contract), 1743-45, by William Hogarth
Rosanna Harrison
Learning facilitator, Amgueddfa Cymru/National Museum Wales – Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Caerdydd/National Museum Cardiff

In 2001, while exploring the bookshop in the National Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing, I first spotted The Other Hogarth: The Aesthetics of Difference. I had just come across the great British satirist William Hogarth’s Marriage A-la Mode print series as research for an undergraduate module. So finding The Other Hogarth seemed like fate. I bought it there and then. 

This is a groundbreaking book. Its 15 essays – edited by Bernadette Fort and Angela Rosenthal – look at different aspects of Hogarth’s artistic engagement with “otherness”. It is scholarly, but accessible and endlessly fascinating. Since 2001, this (now well-worn) book has greatly inspired my love of 18th-century British art. 

ISBN: 0691010137, Princeton University Press

Two of the book’s essays stand out as key influences for me. Firstly, art historian David Solkin’s discussion of Hogarth’s visual link between taste, display and the visceral symptoms of syphilis in his essay, The Fetish over the Fireplace. And secondly, art historian Angela Rosenthal’s piece, Unfolding Gender, about how Hogarth conveys a character’s subversive intentions through the use of fans, which at the time had their own social language. 

The Other Hogarth has allowed me to think about 18th-century imagery and how it can be placed clearly within context in museum exhibitions. Its pages continue to deepen my passion for historic art.

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