Vintage Art Masterpieces,Vintage Prints for Sale,WILLIAM HOGARTH TheShrimp Girl by WILLIAM HOGARTH {English School}

TheShrimp Girl by WILLIAM HOGARTH {English School}

The Shrimp Girl

The Shrimp Girl by

THE whole of England sweeps through Hogarth’s imagination: the grim, the
sweet, the coarse, the cruel, the lusty, and the tender.

He loved English women
and the beefy men whom he painted in the bulk forms of sculpture; he fre­
quented fairs and taverns, fishmarkets, sideshows, dances, and all-night supper
parties; observed parading redcoats and election riots, and followed the
crowd to a holiday of executions.

With his good sense and indigenous appe­
tites, he could no more have prostrated himself before the old masters than
his friend, Henry Fielding, could have written novels in Latin hexameters.
Not that Hogarth was ignorant of the Italians whom, with irritating disloyalty,
he nicknamed the Black Masters because of the curse they had cast on

art; but he had the wit-to understand that the technique of paintmg, to be of
service to mankind, must be put to work in new situations and transformed in
the crucible of experiences into a living implement.

Accordingly, with the perseverance of a craftsman, he attained a style of
his own, a style so appropriate to his ideas and so devoid of sleights and shams
that it was promptly sniffed at by the connoisseurs and denounced as colloquial
and vulgar.


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It was colloquial-but in the Shakespearean sense; and Hogarth,
smarting under the snub, decided on a more effectual means of reproving his
adversaries. “I had,” he said, “one material advantage over my competitors:
the habitual exercise of retaining, in my mind’s eye, without coldly copying
it on the spot, whatever I intended to paint.”

He intended, in this case, to paint
an English girl whom he retained in his mind’s eye, a sterling type in the
first bloom of womanhood, and to portray her in such a way as to shame his
accusers. There can be no doubt about the result.

The Shnmp Girl-the pic­
ture might be called the Madonna of the Fishmarket-c-is a work of unaccount­
able vivacity, a bravura piece created to disarm the skeptics by its economy
of means-it is hardly more than a sketch-its scintillating execution, and its
authentic warmth and charm.

For nearly two hundred years, the girl with a dish of shrimps on her head
has captivated all beholders, particularly painters who have marveled at its
quality and its mastery of technique.

Perhaps the highest praise came from
Whistler, the little Caesar, who, squinting through his monocle, and unsettled
in his conviction that only himself and

Velasquez had made so much out of so
little, exclaimed, “Hogarth, the only great English painter!”


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