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EroticisminGraphicArt: TheCaseofWilliamHogarth HANS-PETERWAGNER WilliamHogarth'sengravingsthatalludeto,orcommenton,aspects ofhumansexualitycontainadecidedlymoralifironicpictorialdiscourse satirizingthetitillationsoferoticism.Thisismostobviousintheearly seriesontherakeandtheharlotandintheambiguousprintsonmar- riage,whichwerefirstdiscussedbyLichtenberg(1784)andhavesince thenreceivedamplecriticalattention,butitcanalsobeseeninless discussedworks,onwhichIshallfocushere.1 Hogarthwasconcernedwiththeshockingrealitybehindtheglittering facadeofprostitution,revealingitasahorribleand,moreoftenthan not,deadlytrap.Hecouldneverhavecelebratedsexualjoyinthecharac- terofaharlotinthewayJohnClelanddidinFannyHill,forHogarth wasaversebothtothephonyworldofthewhoreandtosexasmere pleasure.LikeJonathanSwift,Hogarthworkedandarguedinasatirical traditionthatcombinedProtestantChristianmoralprincipleswiththe criticalandpessimisticviewsofloveandloversportrayedbysuchclassic writersasJuvenalandOvid.2Inaddition,heintegratedintohisiconog- raphythepopularbawdysatiresthatshapedthe"mentalité"ofhisday. Hencehisengravingsassociatethesexualdrivewithdisorder,animal lust,scatology,illegitimacyandevencriminality.3 InseveralofHogarth'sprintstheeroticmotifplaysaroleonlyappar- entlymarginalwhileactuallysupportinghismajormoralargument.In 53 54/WAGNER Figure1.WilliamHogarth.TheSleepingCongregation(ÃŒTÃŒ6;revisedin¡762.Third State, 1736). TheSleepingCongregationof1736(revisedin1762;fig.1),forinstance, Hogarthpresentsacomicandessentiallymoraljuxtapositionofthe absenceofGodandthepresenceoflust.Inthetopcornerontheleft, Hogarthhas"deconstructed"theroyalcoatofarmstoillustratehismes- sagebothliterallyandemblematically:whiletheinscriptionmerelyshows "ETMONDROIT,"excising"GOD"andthushintingattheselfishnessof EroticisminHogarth / 55 thesleepingcongregation,thesexualorgansoftheroyallionhavebeen grotesquelyexaggerated.God'sabsenceinthisAnglicanmeetinghouseis againsuggestedbythemissingeyeintheupturnedtrianglebelowthe angel,whosefigureisasrisibleasthatofthelion.Thesymbolicmoral messageofthetopcornerisreflectedsymmetricallyandthematically,asit were,inthesceneinthelowercornerontheright.There,alustfulclergy- mansecretlyeyestheexposedbosomofthedozinggirlbesidehim.Like therestofthecongregation,shehasfallenasleepbecauseofthepreacher's obvioustedium.Hogarthsuggeststhatreligiousworshiphasbeenreplaced byidolatry.TounderlinetheimplicationofsinfuladorationHogarthturns theprettyyoungwomanintoasomnolentfigureresemblingaclassical statue.Godhasbeendisplacedbyanewidol,anditisthistemptingidol thatisbeingworshippedbytheoglingclergymanwholiterallyturnsa blindeyetotheWordofGodbeforehim.4 Theexpressiononthegirl'sfaceisratherambiguous,suggestingboth dreamsandrapture.Hogarthseemstoimplythatshemightbedreaming oftheeroticpleasures"OFMATRIMONY,"whichisthetitleshowingon theopenpageinhercopyoftheprayerbook.Acontemporaryobserver oftheprintwouldhaveimmediatelyunderstoodHogarth'simplicitrefer- encetopopularsatiricwritings.Eighteenth-centurysatirists—especially SwiftandFielding—invariablyportrayedreligious"enthusiasts,"suchas Methodists,asaffectedbigotswithsecretsexualdesiresborderingon perversion.5Hogarthadoptedthiscliché,toyingwithitindoubleenten- dresandpuns.Thusheplaysonthereligiousandsexualmeaningsof suchtermsas"matrimony"inthisprint,or"regeneration"inplate2of MarriageÃlaMode.6"OFMATRIMONY"-whichalsoappears,with thesameironicfunction,inplate5ofARake'sProgress(1735;third state1763)—is,infact,anallusiontoalargebodyofworksonmarriage andprocreationwhichwerereadbecausetheypromisedinstruction,but werepotentiallyeroticbecausetheyprovidedtitillationaswell.Nicolas Venette'sMysteriesofConjugalLoveReveal'd(1703andlater),Defoe's ConjugalLewdnessorMatrimonialWhoredom(1727),andthebest- sellingsexguideAristotle'sMaster-Piecearejustthreeexamplesofan importantandhighlyambiguouspseudo-instructionalliteraturethat shapedtheeighteenth-centuryEnglishmentalités.1Theemblematicand ironicalallusionstosexualityinthisprintenforcethecentralargument aboutidolatry,i.e.,thatErosisanidolreplacingGod.Itissummedup inthebiblicalinscriptiononthepulpitandappliestotheparsonaswell astohissleepingparishioners:"Iamafraidofyou,lestIhavebestowed uponyoulabourinvainGalats4th11."ItischaracteristicofHogarth's viewofhumansexualitythatheperceivesandrepresentsitasdangerous andillicit.WhenGodisabsent,theprintseemstosuggest,Eroscreepsin 56 / WAGNER Figure2.WilliamHogarth.Noon(Plate2ofTheFourTimesoftheDay.FirstState,1738). intheformofnewandpreferablyfemaleidols.ButforWilliam Hogarth,atleastinhisgraphicart,Erosisnotagodwhocanreplacethe godofbourgeoisEnglishPuritanism.8 Asimilarsymmetricalarrangement,withsexualityremovedtothe margin,asitwere,canbefoundinNoon(fig.2),thesecondengravingof theseriesTheFourTimesoftheDayproducedin1738.Inthiswork, HogarthjuxtaposestwogroupsofLondoners,contrastingthemodish EroticisminHogarth / 57 superficialityoftheHuguenotsontherightwiththesensualbrutishness oftheEnglishgroupontheleft.Againtheengravingisrichindouble meaningsandironicalallusions(note,forinstance,theheadofJohnthe Baptistasanambiguoussignforaneatinghouse,andtheothersign,on thetavern,showingawomanwithoutahead).Thegutterinthemiddle ofthepictureseparatestherefinedfromthevulgar,thespiritualfromthe physical,andthecivilizedfromthesavage.ButHogarthdoesnotpresent thescenewithasimpledualismthatwouldpreferEnglishvitalityto Frenchartificialityorviceversa.Instead,hecriticizesbothformsof behavior.Whatisimportanthere,however,istherepeatedpictorial allusiontosexuality.Theseallusionsaremadeintheformofemblemati- calencodingsofanessentiallyrepressivediscourseonsexualbehavior. Significantly,thetwosidesoftheprintareconnectedbythecarcassofa cat,asymbolofunbridledlustandvitality—thefactthatthecatisdead indicatesHogarth'sattitudetowarduncontrolledsex.Intherighthalfof thepicture,sexissubduedbutneverthelesspresent.Hogarthconveysits negativeaspectbystressingaffectation,falsity,andnarcissism.Thelady andherloverontherightrepresentartificialorfalselovemakinginits eighteenth-centurysense.Perhaps,asLichtenbergsuspected,thelady's widepetticoatisnotanexpressionofcontemporaryfashionbuthidesher (illegitimate)pregnancy(Erklärung,1:177).Bothherloverandtheboy infrontofthecouple,probablyherson,introducethethemeofself- love.Theoverdressedgallantbehindtheboyisapparentlyasenamored ofhisownpersonasheisofthebeautifulladybesidehim.Theboy's gesturerecallssatiricallythetragicmythofanotheryouthwhofellin lovewithhisownimage;likeNarcissusheadmireshisreflectionina puddlewhilestrokinghischest.HogarthalsoridiculestheFrenchcustom ofkissesofgreeting;inthiscasetwooldwomenrenderthepotentially eroticaspectofkissingludicrousbytheirveryage. Ontheothersideofthegutter,theallusionstosexarecastintomuch cruderimagessuggestingsavagery,evencannibalism.9Theiconography oftheprintdrawsonsexualsymbolsandemblemsthathadbeenpartof sexistandmisogynistsatireforcenturies,including"TheSilentWoman" (thesignshowingawomanwithoutherhead)andthefoodrepresented.10 Intheupstairswindowofthetavern,amanandawomanfightovera pieceofmeat.Theshapeoftheplatterandofthemeatitselfsuggests sexualorgansandintercourse.Thegeneralmoodofpassionatehunger forbothfoodandsexisfurtherreinforcedbyobjectsreferringtopene- trationandspillage,i.e.,ejaculation:notethespear-shapedbarofthe sign-boardenteringthewoman'sheadfrombehind(wherehermale adversaryispositioned),andtheliquidrunningoutofthegirl'spie beneaththesignassheisbeingfondledbyablackmanalsostanding 58 / WAGNER behindher.Itisthiscouple(left)whoaremostexplicitlyeroticinthe print,theblackman's"hunger"exposingoneofthegirl'snipplesto publicview."DavidDabydeenhasarguedthat"Hogarth'sblackis...a positivefigure,forthegrouphebelongsto,thoughtheyexistindirtand passion,arepreferabletothearistocrats,theirsharedanimalenergy, howeversqualid,andtheirnaturalness,beinginpositivecontrasttothe reserve,polishandostentationofthelattergroup."121argueratherthat Hogarthpresentstheobserverwithtwobehavioralpatternsofwhich neitheristobepreferred.AsDabydeenhastoadmithimself,the eighteenth-century(white)Englishconceptionoftheblackmanassoci- atedhimwithanimaldrives,i.e.,lust,cannibalism,andsavagery.Inthe contextofthisprint,oneshouldalsoconsiderHogarth'sgeneralsatirical intention,directednotonlyagainstaristocratic(French)behavior,but alsoagainstthetraditional,classicalwayofshowing"lespointsdujours" asagainstthesqualidandbarbarianaspectoflowlifeinLondon.Thus theentwinedloversontheleft,thecook-maidandherparamour,representHogarth 'shumorousinterpretationofthemythologicalmeetingof EuropeandAfrica,ofApolloandVenus.13Venus'snakednessindicates hercarnality.LiketheprettymilkmaidinTheEnragedMusician(1741), herbeautystandsinsharpanddeliberatecontrasttotheuglylow-life figuresaroundher.Sincesheissobeautiful,showingthetypical Hogarthianserpentinelinesofadesirableyoungwoman,hertoleration ofsexualadvancesmustbeallthemoreshockingtotheobserver.14The unacceptablenatureofthisprimitivepassionisfurtherexpressedbyher choiceofaprimitive—African—lover.Ifthecook-maidrepresentsapart ofEngland,thenEngland—andthisseemstobeanimportantpointin Hogarth'sencodedpictorialdiscourse—unashamedlyandevenwillingly givesintosavagelustandhunger. Movingsexuality,andthesignsoriconsrepresentingit,totheperiph- ery,isapartofHogarth'ssatiricstrategy.Itpermitsanimplicitargu- ment,eventually,thatthemargincontrolsandinformsthecenter.Other examplesofthisironicmarginalizationofsexualityincludeHogarth's MasqueradeTicket(1727)andplate2of77teAnalysisofBeauty(1753). TheemblematicMasqueradeTicket,forinstance(fig.3),productofa phaseinwhichHogarthstillidentifiedwith,andevendefended,the culturalvaluesofthedominantaristocraticclass,overwhelmstheosten- siblecenterwithitsperipheralmaterial,referredtoalsointhelegendof theengraving.Dominatingtheframeisthecentralclock,itselfframed bytwomasturbatinganimals;andtwosacrilegiousaltarsdominatethe sidesofthepicture,wherePriapus(ontheleft)andVenus(ontheright) aretobeworshipped.Amor'sarrowseemstocomestraightfromVenus's pudenda.IfoneaddstothesesymbolsandemblemstheBacchanalian EroticisminHogarth / 59 Figure3.WilliamHogarth.MasqueradeTicket(FirstState,1727). pictureonthebackwall(another"margin"oftheroom),andtheobscene punningsigns,"Supperbelow,"oneachside,onerealizeshowHogarth subvertstheapparentlyinnocentcenteroftheengravingthroughthe marginalizationofsexuality. ThisstrategyismostconvincinglyappliedintheplateofTheAnalysis ofBeautyshowingadancingassembly(fig.4).Infact,onemightatfirst overlookintheprintthemorethandecorativesignificanceoftheSamar- itanWomanlookingatthecoupleontheleft,andofSanchoPanza commentingontheassignationtakingplaceinfrontofhiseyes.Inthis casethemarginalfigures,includingtheportraitofHenryVIIonthe wall,aswellasthesubtextstheystandfor(thestoryoftheSamaritan WomanintheBible;SanchoPanza'sroleinDonQuixoteasthenormative ,realisticfigurewhoseesmoreclearlythanhisdeludedmaster),cast doubtonthemoralintegrityofthedancingcouples.15Thevariousrefer- encestosexintheseengravings,likethoseinNoon,althoughoften ambiguousandevenerotic,assertHogarth'sessentiallymoralisticview 60 / WAGNER Figure4.WilliamHogarth,TheAnalysisofBeauty(Plate2.FirstState,1753). ofsexualityasadangerousforcethatneedscontrollingandpolicing. Thisviewisconditionedbythepopularsexualmentalité. Thesameviewismostobviousinhismosteroticprints,theseries entitledBeforeandAfter.Theengravingswereprecededbytwoseriesof paintingsthatareimportantlyrelatedtotheengravedversion.Withthe originaloutdoorsceneofthepaintingsBeforeandAfter(Fitzwilliam Museum,Cambridge,England;figs.5and6),Hogarthsignificantly producedapairofpastoralworksdealingcomicallyratherthanrealisti- callywiththefallfrominnocence.AlthoughdoneintheFrenchmanner, theyarefarfromstressingthejoyofsexandofsensuousnessinthestyle ofBoucherorFragonard.Fromamodernperspective,Paulsonisright whenhetermsthem"indecent,"forHogarthreduceseroticlovetolust andfrustrationonthepartoftheactors,andthereforetheviewertoa voyeur.I6Theindoorversionofthepaintings,producedafewyearslater (J.PaulGettyCollection),displacesvoyeuristicrealisminfavorofthe allusivesymbolismthatisalsotypicalofHogarth'sgraphicart.Signifi- cantly,heusedthislatterseries,whichismore"readable"becauseofits emblematicdiscourse,asamodelfortheengravedmoralworks. EroticisminHogarth / 61 Figure5.WilliamHogarth,Before,painting(outdoorscene;1730-31).Repro- ducedbypermissionoftheSyndicsoftheFitzwilliamMuseum,Cambridge. Figure6.WilliamHogarth,After,painting(outdoorscene,1730-31).Repro- ducedbypermissionoftheSyndicsoftheFitzwilliamMuseum,Cambridge. 62 / WAGNER Figure7.WilliamHogarth,Before(FirstState,1736). In1736,immediatelyafterthecompletionofARake'sProgress,when HogarthwasengravingBeforeandAfter,hewasalsoworkingonareli- giouspaintinginthegrandmanner,ThePoolofBethesda(1735-37).17 Thusheneverlostsightofhismoralandsocialconcerns,eventhoughhe wascreatinganewversionofanage-olderoticthemeinart.Beyondits criticismofsexuallust,Hogarth'sengravedversionofBeforeandAfter (figs.7and8)hasseveraltargets:theengravingsrevisehisownpaintings, adding"witandsatiricbitetohisconception,"18andalsomockthecon- temporaryFrenchgenreof"scènesgalantes."Infact,afirst"reading"of EroticisminHogarth / 63 Figure8.WilliamHogarth,After(FirstState,1736). theprintsasseparatepicturesdisclosesHogarth'ssubtleandironicalplay withtheFrenchtraditionbywayofallusion.InBefore,anumberof symbolsrefertoimminentseductionandsex,butalsotothehypocrisy, vanity,andessentialludicrousnessofthecouple:thepaintingonthewall, struckbythesunfromabove,showsCupidlightingarocket;andthedog, asinsimilarFrenchindoorscenes,isonhishindlegs,reflectingsymboli- callythearousalofthecharactersinfrontofthebeckoningbed.The mobcapfastenedtothecurtainontherightresemblesthefaceofan onlooker,19probablyasasatiricalallusiontothecustomaryvoyeurin contemporaryFrenchengravings.20Theladyischaracterizedindirectlyby 64 / WAGNER herpersonalobjectsandbooksthatrevealherresistancetobemerecon- ventionalbashfulnessifnothypocrisy.Inthisinstance,Hogarthemploys theoldliterarytechniqueofevaluatingcharactersbyassociatingthemwith theirbelongings,amethodwhichPopehadperfectedinTheRapeofthe Lock(1712,1714)wherethebeautifulBelindaisdescribedindirectlyby her"Puffs,Powders,Patches,Bibles,Billet-doux"(canto1,line138).In Hogarth'sprint,thelady'spretendedshockatherparamour'sadvancesis ironicallycontrastedwiththenatureandarrangementofherbooks:The PracticeofPiety,adevotionalbookwhichissaidtohaveinfluenced Bunyan...

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ISSN
1938-6133
Print ISSN
0360-2370
Pages
pp. 53-74
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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