William Hogarth, Battle of the Pictures (Cook)

Hogarth, William (1697 London 1764). The Battle of the Pictures. Admission ticket for an auction of own pictures in 1745 which are attacked on earth as in midair by those of the Italian school. The stall of the Old Master auctioneer with a vane whose four direction show the letters P.U.F.S. – Puffs. Engraving by Thomas Cook (ca. 1744 – London 1818). Inscribed: Engraved by T. Cook. / (Publis)hed by G. & J. Robinson Paternoster Row June 1st. 1802, otherwise within the subject as above just as 2-lined admission text. 8⅝ × 9½ in (22 × 24.2 cm).

“ A witty reprise of the literary conflict between Ancients and Moderns, here shown as a battle of pictures rather than books … The elaborate system of advanced bids was in itself a criticism of the doubtful practices of auctioning Old Master paintings, and an attempt to find a way of marketing modern paintings, claiming his own paintings to be contemporary equivalents of earlier types … The ranks of the Old Master paintings on the left suggest the mass production of dubious Old Masters for ignorant Connoisseurs and the essential speciousness of the market presided over by auctioneers such as Christopher Cock and dealers such as Robert Bragge ”

(David Bindman, Hogarth and his Times, S. 113).

Among the attacked paintings the Breakfast of the Bridal Pair from Marriage à la Mode, Midnight Modern Conversation, from Rake’s Progress the Tavern Scene, the Morning from The Times as well as the Arrest from Harlot’s Progress. The sale earned Hogarth “trifle in relation to the amounts … by which one now pays his original paintings” (Lichtenberg). – Contrary to Hogarth’s own engraving the admission text here below the subject.

Very fine impression on strong paper, particularly above and below extremely wide-margined. On the left trimmed under partial loss of the publishers’ imprint within the wide platemark. Slight tidemark in the white right lateral margin. – 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.

Offer no. 7,580 | EUR 176. (c. US$ 181.) + shipping

William Hogarth, Battle of Pictures (Cook small)

– – – The same in Cook’s popular later, smaller version partly worked together with his son. Inscribed: Hogarth pinxt. / T. Cook & Son sc. / Published by Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme, August 1st. 1808., otherwise as above. Subject size 6⅛ × 6¾ in (15.7 × 17.2 cm). – Trimmed within the wide white platemark.

Offer no. 8,938 | EUR 60. (c. US$ 62.) + shipping

William Hogarth, Battle of the Pictures (steel engraving)

– – – The same in steel engraving about 1840. 5¾ × 6¾ in (14.7 × 15.3 cm). – Title in German + English. – Somewhat fox-spotted.

Offer no. 7,836 | EUR 47. (c. US$ 48.) + shipping

“ Many thanks for your message. Thank you very much for sending the (Anthonie) Waterloo … I am grateful to you for the opportunity to buy the etching. It was interesting to learn about its provenance … The Waterloo etching arrived safely today, beautifully wrapped. Thank you very much indeed ”

(Mr. M. L., April 24 and 29 resp. and May 6, 2003)