Research 2 – Political Satire

Research 2

William Hogarth focused on political satire and focused his attention on issues relating to migrants, domestic politics, and taxation.  His most famous series are The Harlot’s Progress and Industry and Idleness. 

Research the artists and find a work that you feel could be reworked into a contemporary illustration for today.

William Hogarth

He was born in 1697 and is most famous for his satirical political illustrations.  His style has become known as ‘Hogarthian’ and his influences include French and Italian paintings and engravings.  His series of works on Harlot’s Progress, six plates and Rake’s Progress, eight plates, are his most well known and were done as a series of paintings first.  These were considered moral works and feature the demise of their characters in chronological order.  The original paintings for Harlot’s progress were destroyed in a fire.

James Gillray

He was born in 1756 and is influenced by Hogarth.  He is famous for his etched political and social satires.  He was published between the years 1792 to 1810 and is often cited as the ‘father of political cartoon’.  His style is loose and full of energy and extreme characters and almost all his work is etching with some aquatint used and some stipple techniques used too.

George Cruikshank

He was born in 1792 and is a famous caricaturist and book illustrator.  He followed in his father’s footsteps and his older brother.  He was deemed the ‘modern Hogarth’ at the time and illustrated a number of books by Charles Dickens who was his friend at that time.

Steven Bell

He was born in 1951 and currently works as an English political cartoonist for The Guardian and other publications.  His work is very much left wing in political opinion, and he has worked on a series of short animated films with Bob Godfrey for Channel 4.  His work largely focuses on the grotesque caricature form of a character and is very raw in his depiction of his take on political life.

From all the artists researched, I was drawn to Cruikshank for the fantastic range of sizes in his character drawings and the sheer bright and cheerfulness of the colours used.  They’re eye catching and very engaging.  However, Gillray had a stronger tongue in cheek style within his drawings that appealed and the indigestion gained by looking at the detail in his painting as detailed on the reference board, really drew me in.  There were a number of finer details that were fantastic.  Hogarth is a clear winner for his level of attention to detail and the fact that he produced paintings and then etchings.  He was a powerhouse of opinion and I am definitely a fan.  Bell however, although he definitely has a tone of ‘Spitting Image’ in his cartoons and illustrations, has too much anger in them for my liking, but the state of the world requires such observations to be expressed.

William Hogarth – The bad taste of the town – picked for a contemporary twist.


James Gillray (2021) Wikipedia

[accessed 18.08.21]

(2019) Satire & Social Criticism: Prints by William Hogarth from the Collection

[accessed 18.08.2021]

Hogarth (2021) Wikipedia

[accessed 07.09.2021]

Hogarth (2017) Oxford Open Learning

[accessed 18.08.2021]

Wiley online library (2020) William Hogarth, visual culture and sociologies of art

[accessed 07.09.21]

Steve Bell (2021) The Guardian

[Accessed 18.08.2021]