Shrimp Girl, 1886, William Hogarth
William Hogarth (1697-1764) is one of the great British painters and satirists of the 18th century. During the period of the Enlightenment, artists like Hogarth added a touch of humor to an age of serious philosophical inquiry and a growing desire for political revolution across the European continent. His series of moral paintings, including Marriage a-la-mode and The Harlot's Progress, are some of his most famous works, but he was also a sought-after portrait painter. He began his career at a young age as an apprentice to an engraver, and, despite being the son of an impoverished father, quickly rose in ranks amongst the elite due to his hard work and raw talent.
The Shrimp Girl, however, hearkens back to his days as a poor boy, observing the people walking through the streets of London. The original painting - although an unfinished sketch for a portrait - was cherished by his widow, and is now kept in the National Gallery in London. Painted in the 1740s, it shows a young woman with a basket of various shellfish atop her head as she tries to sell them. Her poor garments also give away her lowly status, but her lively expression and bright eyes show no shame or sadness. This 19th-century engraving is an exquisite and faithful reproduction of the painting, capturing the loose brushstrokes and bright mood of the original.
Plate size: 9" x 7.5"
Sheet size: 18.5" x 12.5"
Condition: In excellent condition