Detail from The Enraged Musician by William Hogarth, 1741. Dayton C. Miller Collection, Music Division, Library of Congress.
In this humorous scene a violinist stands at an open window, hands to ears, overlooking a noisy city scene which is bustling with street vendors hawking their wares, a musician playing a hautboy (an oboe), a knife grinder, children, a parrot, and a barking dog.
The finest source on Hogarth's prints is a two-volume catalogue raisonné by Ronald Paulson, Hogarth's Graphic Works. The entry for The Enraged Musician appears in vol. 1, cat. no. 158, pp. 184-186; it is reproduced in vol. 2, pl. 170 (2nd state) and pl. 250 (an unfinisted state). Paulson describes in detail the painting of the same title and the various states of this etching. He also provides possible identities for the violinist -- Cervetto, Castrucci, John Festin, or Thomas Arne -- with sources and pros and cons for each. All of the figures in the street and their various occupations are described. The hautboy player, for example, though unnamed, was a known figure in the streets of London. Other aspects of the etching are also addressed -- the probable location (St. Martin's Lane), and the Beggar's Opera, a playbill for which is posted on the house wall at the left, was playing at Drury Lane on the night of November 24, 1741, about a week before this etching by Hogarth was published.
This print was included in The Pipers: An Exhibition of Engravings, Watercolors and Lithographs from the Dayton C. Miller Collection, Library of Congress, March 1977.
About the Artist
William Hogarth, painter, etcher, and engraver, 1697-1764
William Hogarth was a British 18th-century painter and engraver, known mostly for his satirical series of paintings and engravings depicting the moral lapses of society, such as The Harlot's Progress, The Rake's Progress, or Marriage à la Mode. While Hogarth was also a portrait and history painter, it is for these genre scenes of high and low life that he is most remembered. Hogarth championed the rights of artists in England and was one of the signers of a petition to Parliament in 1735 on the behalf of printmakers. This resulted in the Engraver's Copyright Act which protected artists from unauthorized engravings of their work. His life and art are well-documented.
- Ronald Paulson, Hogarth's Graphic Works. Revised edition. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1970. 2 vols. LC call number: NE642.H6A4 1970. [back to article]
- For further biographical information, see the entry on Hogarth in Bénézit authored by Jean Dupuy, and see Sheila O'Connell, "William Hogarth" in Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online (subscription only) which provides a summary of his career and his writings as well as a bibliography. The most complete summary of Hogarth's life, especially regarding his prints, can be found in Ronald Paulson, Hogarth's Graphic Works. Revised edition. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1970. 2 vols. LC call number: NE642.H6A4 1970. [back to article]