William Hogarth was one of the most prolific painters and engravers of 18th century and most of his work is known for their pictorial satire. In other words, Hogarth was able to achieve with his prints and caricatures, what his contemporaries strived to attain through their writings and poems.
Hogarth's first important series of pictorial narrative appeared in 1737 titled 'A Harlot's Progress' which consisted of six engravings. The series had earlier appeared in the form of paintings which were soon replaced by engravings. While Hogarth had been in this line of work since early 1720s, yet Harlot's Progress was the first set of engravings that established his position as a major painter and engraver of his time.
Hogarth's cartoons and engravings had a serious moral purpose to serve. They depicted a very real picture of the life and society in the 18th century. It is commonly believed that, "In his masterpieces - "A Harlot's Progress," "A Rake's Progress," "Marriage A-la-Mode" and "Gin Lane" - he created an image of society so resonant and enduring that the adjective "Hogarthian" has come to define 18th-Century England." (Smith, 1997)
Henry Fielding was another famous name of those days. He wasn't just a contemporary of Hogarth's but was his close friend and staunch supporter. Together they fought against the immorality persisting in their society by highlighting its weaknesses in their works. Smith (1997) adds, "Hogarth, along with writers like his friend Henry Fielding, pioneered a vigorous, assertively British esthetic that proudly declared its independence from the oppressive weight of classical tradition and unthinking reverence for continental art."
Fielding was deeply impressed by Hogarth's courage and brilliance and thus took inspiration from his works for his own writings. Fielding's famous works include Shamela, Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones, all three of which show prominent signs of Hogarth's influence.
How Hogarth Influenced Fielding's Writings
It has already been made clear that Henry Fielding was immensely supportive of Hogarth's works and the messages they contained. It was only natural then that he employed some of those messages and images in his own writings. For example in the preface of Joseph Andrews, Fielding made it clear that he understood the difference between cartoon and a caricature, something that his friend Hogarth had taught him.
We must understand that there are different ways in which Hogarth had cast an influence on Fielding's work and sometimes this connection was not obvious at first glance. For example while at times Hogarth's presence is highly prominent, at others there is an obscure connection between his art and Fielding's writings. For this reason it is important to pay attention to the similarities in the works of these two great 18th century heavyweights in order to expose the bond that existed between them and their art.
Both Hogarth and Fielding were of the view that creating an exaggerated picture of society's moral ills was the only way they could be effectively exposed and cured. Hogarth however was a pioneer in this field and he took pains to demarcate the boundaries of character and caricature thus separating an image from its grotesque version. This is something that his friend Fielding not only acknowledged but careful employed in his works Joseph Andrews, Shamela and Tom Jones.
For example, the character of Bridget Allworthy in Tom Jones came directly from Hogarth's engraving "Morning" from "The Four Times of Day." These engravings depicted a rare meeting between lower classes and elites. Allworthy's image was based on a real-life character which Fielding liked so much that he placed it prominently in his 1749 novel thus making it clear that he was a huge supporter of Hogarth's philosophy. Similarly at one occasion in the same novel, Fielding refers to Hogarth when working on a painting. After exclaiming 'O, Shakespeare! had I thy pen! O, Hogarth! Had I thy pencil!' Fielding starts painting 'the pale countenance, staring eyes, chattering teeth, faltering tongue, and trembling lips' of one character.
Fielding was not ashamed of the influence his friend had on his work. In fact, it was important for him to make this bond obvious by heavily borrowing from the latter's works. Fielding's success as a major satirist of his time can also be owed to Hogarth because it was through his work that Fielding was able to understand the difference that…