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Sewell, Brian

art critic

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The Evening Standard - United Kingdom | 09/02/2007

William Hogarth's paintings at the Tate Britain, London

The art critic Brian Sewell admires the social satire in the work of 18th century painter William Hogarth, on show at the Tate Britain until April 29th. "When Hogarth thundered against corruption, cruelty and decadence in his society, he used art as subtly as a battering ram. He felt intuitively the need for reforms. ... Much of what he saw about him in the London of his day - and he was indeed a Londoner, born in the City, long resident in what is now Leicester Square - roused Hogarth's ire and reforming zeal. ... While the rich grew gluttonously fat, the poor starved, stole and were executed; the mad were imprisoned as sideshows for the sane, the prostitution of both sexes was an organised trade and random and immediate sexual pleasure urgently habitual. ... The moral influence of the Church of England was in deep decline and the parish priest as likely as any man to be caught with his trousers down."

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