Born three hundred years ago in Smithfield, London, William Hogarth established himself as a central figure in eighteenth-century English culture through his paintings, engravings, and outspoken art criticism. In this new edition of Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty—a unique work combining theory with practical advice on painting—Ronald Paulson includes the complete text of the original work; an introduction that places the Analysis in the tradition of aesthetic treatises and Hogarth’s own "moral" works; extensive annotation of the text and accompanying illustrations; and illuminating manuscript passages that Hogarth omitted from the final printed version.
In the development of English aesthetics, the Analysis of Beauty takes a position of high significance. Hogarth’s stature in his own time suggests the importance of his attempt to systematize and theorize his own artistic practice. What he proposes is an aesthetics of the middle range, subordinating both the Beautiful and the Sublime to the everyday world of human choice and contingency—essentially the world of Hogarth’s own modern moral subjects, his engraved works.