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Walking the Streets: William Hogarth’s The Four Times of Day (1736–1738)

Public Lecture Course – Mark Hallett

  • 28 May 2020
  • This is the first lecture in a six-part series, titled Georgian Provocations: Six Iconic Works of Art from Eighteenth-Century Britain.

    This lecture is now available.

Georgian Provocations: Six Iconic Works of Art from Eighteenth-Century Britain is a one-off summer Public Lecture Course, delivered online, which is designed to provide an accessible and stimulating introduction to the art of the period. In this series of six 30-minute lectures, the art-historians Mark Hallett and Martin Postle focus on seminal paintings from the Georgian era, and investigate their contents, contexts and impact. Doing so reveals many of the ideas and issues that coursed through British visual culture between the 1730s and the 1790s, and demonstrates the riches that continue to be gained from looking closely at the individual work of art.

William Hogarth is famous as a visual chronicler of eighteenth-century London. Of all his depictions of metropolitan life, The Four Times of Day, produced as a set of paintings and prints in the late 1730s, is perhaps the most detailed, complex and enigmatic. In this talk, Mark Hallett explores the journeys that this pictorial quartet invites us to take through different parts of London, not only at different times of day, but also at various times of the year. They are the kind of journeys that contemporaries associated with the figure of the urban satirist, a familiar male protagonist in the literature of the period. He was someone who roved the city in search of the human foibles, hypocrisies, conflicts and vices that were the satirist’s fundamental subject-matter. Hogarth relished taking on this role in The Four Times of Day. In doing so, he also relished the opportunity of mapping his tales of folly and breakdown onto the city’s crowded and often chaotic architecture. In The Four Times of Day, his characters become part of a visually cacophonous form of street-collage that extends outwards and upwards, and that incorporates an eloquent array of signs, placards, windows, steeples and rooftops.

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About the speaker

  • The Director of Studies oversees all aspects of the Centre's activities, ensuring that it supports the most original, rigorous and stimulating research into the history of British art and architecture, and fosters collaboration with our sister-institution, the Yale Center for British Art. 

    Prior to taking up his position at the Centre in 2012, Mark worked in the History of Art department at the University of York. Appointed as lecturer in 1994, he became a Professor in 2006 and was Head of Department between 2007 and 2012.

    His scholarly research has focused on British art from the seventeenth century onwards. The books he has written and edited include The Spectacle of Difference: Graphic Satire in the Age of Hogarth (Yale University Press, 1999); Hogarth (Phaidon Press, 2000); Eighteenth Century York: Culture, Space and Society (edited with Jane Rendall, Borthwick Institute, 2003); Faces in a Library: Sir Joshua Reynolds's 'Streatham Worthies' (The Watson Gordon Lecture 2011, National Galleries of Scotland, 2012); Living with the Royal Academy: Artistic ideals and Experiences in England, 1769–1848 (edited with Sarah Monks and John Barrell Ashgate, 2013); Reynolds: Portraiture in Action (Yale University Press, 2014); and Court, Country, City: British Art and Architecture, 1660–1735 (edited with Nigel Llewellyn and Martin Myrone, Yale University Press, 2016). He also co-edited the major online publication, The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition: A Chronicle, 1769–2018 (Paul Mellon Centre, 2018).

    Mark has also been involved in curating numerous exhibitions. He co-curated the 2007 Tate Britain exhibition Hogarth and co-authored the accompanying catalogue with Christine Riding; he co-curated the 2011 York Art Gallery exhibition William Etty: Art and Controversy and co-edited the accompanying catalogue with Sarah Burnage and Laura Turner; he co-curated the 2015 Wallace Collection exhibition Joshua Reynolds: Experiments in Paint and co-edited the accompanying catalogue with Lucy Davis. With his PMC colleague Sarah Victoria Turner, he curated the 2018 Royal Academy exhibition, The Great Spectacle: The Royal Academy and its Summer Exhibitions 1769–2018, and co-authored the accompanying catalogue. He curated George Shaw: A Corner of a Foreign Field, which opened at the Yale Center for British Art in October 2018, before travelling to the Holburne Museum, Bath, in February 2019. With Zuzana Flaskova and Rosie Ram, he recently co-curated the Tate Britain Spotlight Display Vital Fragments: Nigel Henderson and the Art of Collage, for which he also co-wrote a series of short films on Henderson’s collage-work Screen. He is currently carrying out research for an exhibition on John Constable and J.M.W Turner, and developing a book project on painted collage in the 1960s.  

    Mark has been the recipient of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship and a Mellon Senior Fellowship. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge (2013–14) and a Visiting Professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art (2014–16).