Wednesday, May 28, 2014

William Hogarth: A Masonic Artist

William Hogarth (1697-1764) was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and cartoonist. He was initiated as a Freemason before 1728 in the Lodge at the Hand and Apple Tree Tavern, Little Queen Street, and later belonged to the Carrier Stone Lodge and the Grand Stewards' Lodge; which still possesses the 'Hogarth Jewel' which he designed for the Lodge's Master to wear. Today the original is preserved and a replica is worn for  Lodge meetings. Freemasonry was represented in some of Hogarth's work, most notably 'Night', the fourth in the quartet of paintings collectively entitled the Four Times of the Day.

Masonic records, of the seventeenth century are few in number in England at least, . Fortunately those of the eighteenth century, owing to the revisionist recasting of Masonry's political allegiances, which took place in 1717, and the subsequent growth of the English Craft have conveniently been better preserved. Littler attention has been given to other sources of information -such as art, and especially, William Hogarth, Grand Steward of the Grand Lodge of England in 1735.

Little is known of Hogarth's Masonic record. Where and when he received the degrees are unknown. A manuscript list in the records of the Grand Lodge of England show him as a member of the lodge meeting at the "Hand and Apple Tree," Little Queen Street, London; and in 1730, of the "Corner Stone" Lodge. Hogarth became a Freemason between 1725 and 1728. That Hogarth officiated as one of the Grand Stewards of the Assembly and Feast on April 17, 1735, was indicated in the minutes of the Grand Lodge of England. His appointment March 30, 1734, was recorded thusly: 

"Then the twelve present Stewards were called up, and Thanks returned them from the Chair for the Care they had taken in providing such an elegant Entertainment for the Society, and at the same time their Healths were drank and also desired to proceed for each Steward to name his successor for the ensuing year which they did in manner following.Hogarth's name appeared as number eight on the list.

Hogarth's most famous Masonic engraving is the one named "Night", the last of a series known as The Four Times of the Day.

It is doubtlessly intended, not as a critique of Masonry, but of the behavior of some Masons of his day. The image appears to depict a mason who is inebriated.

Next to Night, Hogarth's engraving, "The Mystery of Masonry brought to Light by the Gormogons, " is a curious piece, quite specific to his time. The Gormogons were a secret society established in 1724 in England in opposition to Freemasonry. It claimed great antiquity and that it was descended from an ancient Chinese society. Other of Hogarth's engravings depict individuals associated with Freemasonry, among them an image of James Anderson, and another of the Duke of Wharton, who was Grand Master in London from 1722-23.

It is unclear when the print was first published. While it is first documented in 1742, it is believed to have been produced in the previous decade.

Hogarth also made an engraving of Simon Lord Lovat in 1746, for which there was an unusually great demand. Lovat is of interest to the Craft on account of his connection with the Rite of Strict Observance. He was murdered on April 9, 1747, by the English for remaining loyal to the Stuart cause, having been implicated in Jacobite attempts to return the legitimate King to the throne.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I hate you interwebz!!! My original reply was all awesome and actually sounded like i had half a clue....with an art history joke at my own expense tossed in. I was quite proud of it actually. Then i had to prove i am not a robot and all interwebz hell broke loose:/ dammit.
I wanted to know what symbolism or subtle references i was missing that clearly indicated the subject is drunk? I am guessing i can't see the entire composition because this guy doesn't strike me as drunk. His 'body language' and those eyebrows especially tell me he is torqued the fuck off and weary of excuses . I recognize it because it is my personal version of resting bitch face:)