Now & Today then for Known Occasion
The Bear with the Club
And if you are not docile …
… well , you indifferents are unwilling to know anyway …
A Russian Hercules
The Bear as Anti-Thesis to “Line of Beauty”
Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). The Bruiser, C. Churchill … in the Character of a Russian Hercules. The writer Churchill whose “Epistle to Hogarth” had provoked the master in the character of a strong Russian bear, hugging a tankard full of porter as seemingly his sole diet, licking at the fresh head. In his left a knotted club referring to contemporary politics. The rest done by Hogarth’s favourite dog Trump trampling the epistle which he treats contemptuously in a manner not natural to the canine species. Engraving by Thomas Cook (c. 1744 – London 1818). Inscribed in the plate: Designed by W. Hogarth. / Engraved by T. Cook. / London Published by G. G. & J. Robinson Paternoster Row June 1st. 1800. 14⅞ × 11⅜ in (37.8 × 28.9 cm).
Hogarth catalogue by the Tate Gallery, 1971/72, 220 (2nd H. state before the superposition of the palette by the print illustration, so the Cook version here, too) + Hogarth catalogue Zurich, 1983, 91 (7th state with the superposition), both with illustration.
Rarer Sujet made in the rush (August 1763) for which the self-portrait of 1749 had to serve, of which he right away substituted his own head by that of Churchill. Several he added, the titles of the folio volumes were adapted: Great George Street A List of the Subscribers to the North Britons + A New way to Pay old Debts, a comedy by Massenger. Also “The Line of Beauty” fell victim to grinding in face of such a stout, lusty, and rough person as Churchill is described. The print illustration now superpositioning the palette no more taken over by Cook than the caption.
Churchill, a degenerated writing clergyman, was a partisan of John Wilkes for whose North Briton Gazette he worked and which is symbolized here as club plastered with lies, slaying the cartoon. But, as so often, the work grew far beyond its cause.
For once the removal of the “Beauty Line” led directly to the Analysis complex:
“ Hogarth regarded the likeness to a bear as more insulting than it may generally appear; for him there was an aesthetic antithesis between the earlier and later significance of the plate. In the ‘Analysis’ he wrote that ‘we may … lineally account for
the ugliness of the … bear
… which (is) totally devoid of this waving-line …’ ”
On the other hand to an intellectual reflection the exchange of the image done at a late moment:
“ There was nevertheless a quality akin to self-destruction in appropriating to his purpose the plate of his own portrait, which served as frontispiece to his collected works. ”
‘ What may follow God knows . Finis. ’
he meditated in this context. But
“ This was not quite the end of the story. Hogarth continued to work on his notes … and his concluding print ‘The Bathos’ was engraved in the following year” (April).
(all Cat. Tate Gallery S. 89.) ‘The Bruiser’ as second but last work thus.
Cook “made his mark as Hogarth engraver, too, whose complete work he has engraved in copy” (Thieme-Becker) and whose original format he maintained contrary to all later Hogarth editions in his first, earlier edition. For some sheets not published by Hogarth himself Cook became their first engraver, just as he also gained approval of a contemporary connoisseur as Maximilian Speck von Sternburg.
Excellent print of fine chiaroscuro
on solid paper.
Offer no. 7,500 / EUR 496. / export price EUR 471. (c. US$ 569.) + shipping
– – – The same in Cook’s popular later, smaller repetition inscribed “C. Churchill” only. 1807. Image size 6⅞ × 5½ in (17.5 × 14 cm). – Trimmed within the wide white margins.
Offer no. 8,898 / EUR 138. (c. US$ 167.) + shipping
“ Sir, yes, (the Rubens) is closer to the one in London (recte Dresden), but the one we have is on copper. Thank you for your time. Highest regards, D… A… (and yes America could use a blessing about now) ”
(Mr. D. A., November 4, 2003)