Unmercifully swung satiric Scourge
Hogarth’s Trial Gallop
to Butler’s English Don Quixote
Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). Frontispiece and its Explanation to Samuel Butler’s “Hudibras” as an English Don Quixote. Pedestal illustrated with Hudibras and his shield-bearer Ralpho as duo before a chariot driving round Mount Parnassus – on its top the springing Pegasus – with Butler’s buck-legged genius as driver, swinging the whip against the personifications of Rebellion, Hypocrisy + Ignorance carried by the neck at the back. “This satyr symbolises nature as opposed to the repressive Puritanism represented by Hudibras and Ralpho, the anti-heroes of the poem” (Bindman).
On the left a sitting satyr showing the opened page with canto I, stanza 15 of the poem to a cherub with master-apron chiseling at the pedestal. On the right sitting Britannia with spear resting on the large cross arms. On her left leg a faun holding, cheekily laughing, her mirror image before her. “Th(is) implication is that Hudibras and his ilk are still a presence and that the poem is relevant to present times and not just the previous troubled century” (Bindman).
Eventually on the pedestal the poet in crowning medallion with long laurel tendrils wound round with lettered tape. On the left placed back pyramidal pedestal with bust. In front of it a gentleman pointing on it and, kneeling, the winged death. Engraving by Thomas Cook (c. 1744 – London 1818). (1801.) Inscribed: Plate 1. / Design‘d by W. Hogarth. / Engrav‘d by T. Cook., otherwise as above. 10⅜ × 14 in (26.5 × 35.7 cm).
HUDIBRAS I. – With 6-lined caption: “The Basso Releivo, on the Pedestal represents the general Design of Mr. BUTLER in his Incomparable Poem of Hudibras viz BUTLERS Genius in a Car Lashing round Mount Parnassus, in the Persons of Hudibras and Ralpho Rebellion Hypocrify and Ignorance the reigning Vices of his time.”
Cook “made his mark as Hogarth engraver, too (1795 ff.) whose complete work he has reproduced” (Thieme-Becker VII, 1912, p. 348/I) and whose original format he maintained in contrast to all later Hogarth editions, which moreover mostly don’t contain the consequently rarer Hudibras. Several works not published by Hogarth himself had been engraved by Cook for the first time as he met with approval by a contemporary connoisseur as Maximilian Speck von Sternburg, too. – Below trimmed within the white platefield.
Unten innerhalb des weißen Plattenfeldes geschnitten. Upper white platemark/paper margin with two faint smaller tidemarks and, hardly noticeable, some fox-stipples, as on the right,.too. – On strong paper, of finest chiaroscuro. – RICH SHEET.
“ is a vulgarized (English) Don Quixote , a dewitted Rabelais ”
(Laaths, Geschichte der Weltliteratur, 1953, p. 375), a “satiric scourge” (Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., III, 693/I) on the politically just sacked Puritanism and the best-known work of its creator esteemed by Charles II,
(Strensham, Worcestershire, 1612/13 – London 1680), as result of his impressions in the employ of Cromwell’s Colonel Sir Samuel Luke, “at which religious and political sects were about” (Meyers). Remaining incomplete the first two parts of the epic were published in 1663/64, a third one in 1678, then, joined, long-lived through the centuries. In three cantos each
“ describing in rough, mostly eight-syllabic songs (later known as ‘hudibrastic verse’) the loosely connected, grotesque adventures of two Puritans, the knight Hudibras and his shield-bearer Ralpho. Hogarth has engraved two different sets of illustrations to this poem: twelve large, carefully executed engravings he has created on his own, independently of a publisher, and published in February 1726, and seventeen smaller ones which have more the character of woodcuts and presumably done before, but were published the following April only in a poem edition. These follow the course of the action while the large sheets only represent the decisive scenes with an abridgement as legend … Epic and pictures are an antiheroic satire on Puritanism and sectarianism ”
(Margrit Bachofen-Moser in Hogarth Catalogue Zurich, 1983, pp. 25 ff. illustrating the large version in partly differing arrangement).
In the first instance Cook repeated the 12-sheet large version in its original format as for the 3rd sheet in question then here, too, years later in a popular small one of only c. 5½ × 6¾ in (14 × 17 cm) subject size.
The Hudibras set – Thieme-Becker judge – is “of decisive significance for Hogarth’s development.
Here lies the key to the understanding of the satirist H. ”
(Thieme-Becker XVII , 300/II).
And Austin Dobson in the Encyclopedia Britannica of 1911 :
“ These (plates Hogarth) himself valued highly, and they are the best of his book illustrations. But he was far too individual to be the patient interpreter of other men’s thoughts, and it is not in this direction that his successes are to be sought … (And generally resuming) If we regard him – as he loved to regard himself – as ‘author’ rather than ‘artist’, his place is with the great masters of literature – with the Thackerays and Fieldings, the Cervantes and Molières. ”
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– – – The same in Cook’s smaller repetition, in reverse to the large version and Hogarth’s own copper with the caption being replaced by the series title. Inscribed: Pl. I. / Hogarth pinxt. / HUDIBRAS. / T. Cook sculpt. / Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, July 1st. 1807. Subject size 5¼ × 6¾ in (13.4 × 17 cm). – Trimmed within the wide white platemark and this at three sides especially in the outer part slightly foxed, below also finger spotted.
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– – – The same in Hogarth’s own etching with engraving of 1726 with the Sayer address of the 1768 new edition and here in the impression on strong paper from the plate retouched by the royal engraver James Heath (1757 London 1834) about 1822 (“Even these impressions have become relatively rare today though”, Art Gallery Esslingen 1970; and Meyers Konv.-Lex., 4th ed., VIII , 625:
“A fine edition”, esteemed also already by contemporary collectors of the rank of for instance an A. T. Stewart [Catalog of the Stewart Collection, New York 1887, 1221, “fine plates”]). Inscribed: 1 (by the publisher) / W Hogarth Inven. & Sculp / London Printed for Robt. Sayer, Map & Printseller, at No. 53 in Fleet Street., otherwise with title + caption. 10⅜ × 13⅞ in (26.5 × 35.3 cm). – Nagler 10-1. – Illustration of the 1st state with the Overton/Cooper address on occasion of the 1997/98 English-North-American touring exhibition in Bindman, Hogarth and his Times, no. 30 and of the 2nd state in Hogarth Catalog Zurich, 1983, 1. – Plate below left rounded off under loss of 2½ letters. – The wide white margin at three sides weakly foxstippled.
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„ Das Bild ist heute zu meiner vollsten Zufriedenheit eingetroffen … Für die reibungslose und prompte Lieferung dankend, verbleibt mit den besten Endjahreswünschen, freundlichst Ihr … “
(Herr K. v. F., 16. Dezember 2008)