Ephemeral landscapes: of the page, past and future . . .

"Pre"history -- Hogarth

The six-view sequence of the Harlot's Progress (1731) is among William Hogarth's earliest published morality plays. He painted the originals in oil, and transcribed the images into a set of engravings available by subscription. The sequence needs some background information, or at least an interpretive guide, since there are no words apart from plate titles on the images themselves. The tale can be read at face value, as the sorry rise and wretched fall of an independent woman at the hands of many abusers, as well as a more overtly political diatribe, satirizing certain prominent persons of the "real" world (Bindman 1981: 55-62).

A Harlot's Progress, 1

A Harlot's Progress, 2

A Harlot's Progress, 3

A Harlot's Progress, 4

A Harlot's Progress, 5

A Harlot's Progress, 6

Later on, Hogarth's satirical bent becomes more definitively visual, and texts appear as captions or even as part of the image. In the Five Orders of Perriwigs (1761), he employs and twists the contemporary style of scientific presentation into a "virtual" manual, joining undisguised political satire with his (copyrighted) brand of physiognomic analysis. Admittedly, it's a "one-panel" comic, but it relates a narrative once the reader is familar with the back-story.

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