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Hogarth - Musée de Louvre

Until 8 January 2007. Tel : 01 40 20 53 17.

The exhibition of the Louvre on the English painter William Hogarth (1697-1764) is fantastic. With the image of what the painter said himself, and of what the responsables (Frederic Ogée and Olivier Meslay) knew exalter: “The beautiful one comes from the alive one.” A splendor in spite of the disillusioned and marvelous corollary which Hogarth added to its aphorism: “No work of art will never exceed the beauty of a nape of the neck of woman.” The pleasures which one has to traverse this exhibition - because it is well of a course that it acts, a length and enthralling course - do not belong only to the simple aesthetic rapture. And God however knows if it is here of a great intensity: 45 paintings and 40 prints hung with a didactic simplicity and a rigor all, asserted besides by the organizers. The unit is of a visual comfort favorable at the attention, disposal of the spectator here guided, encouraged and fundamental to be delighted by the spectacle of the serpentine line and especially of the “variety”, main word of the painter whom it commented on in a chapter of his famous test the Analysis of the beauty. Not need for inspiration, nor even of imagination, sometimes harmful quality for the artists. Reality, here the town of London, the birthplace in a district which one would say today “difficult”, mégapole multi-coloured, tempting and tragic, is largely sufficient, more inexhaustible and essential, undoubtedly, for Hogarth that the egotistic daydream. Thanks to an intelligent selection and to a meticulous presentation, here thus Hogarth in the plenitude of its multiple, artistic and human qualities : the direction of the narration, interest for the History and the sociology of England of its time, love of people, a deep almost militant compassion. One is far from the image of the dandy whom one is too often made of Hogarth. To follow this way museographic along works of Hogarth, one often thinks of Marcel Proust: even elegance, even acute, pitiless smell of the observation, even crudeness sometimes, even smell of the irony, even refinement in a very demanding and limpid expression at the same time for little that his time is taken, and especially even expansion of characters. There is in addition, and it is also that which the exhibition reveals, one “me pictorial” like during “ego literary” developed by Proust against Sainte-Beuve, a differently important identity that it me strictly biographical. Hogarth, wire of correct schoolmaster then of tests of printing works, walks in this England of the XVIII E century. It is indignant and tells misery, violence, the injustice. One can see of them here two examples, two extraordinary series of narrative engravings (a kind whose Hogarth, large main of the print, is the inventor, as it was that of the copyright in 1835). They are almost fables, accounts of moralist: six prints of the Career of a prostitute (1732), which was an immense success, and the very edifying satire, in eight scenes, Zeal and Idleness. Two very strong stages of the exhibition. Hogarth attended the rising middle-class and the English aristocracy, i.e. what is done best as regards snobbery, of scorn, indifference to human misery, immorality and refinement. The large portraitist who was the artist painted with wonder in scenes of kind or what the British call of the conversations parts. Exquisite fabrics like this Family Fontaine (1730-1735), farandole of characters like energy towards Cythère (here a table) with paces of Watteau or Verlaine of the gallant Festivals. But, behind the lace shivers, the sumptuous ornaments and the gestural erudite one (John Hervey and its friends, 1740), behind the green one and laughing England, “this half-paradise” according to Shakespeare, behind these portraits of prosperous and satisfied middle-class men it very often, hid there like rabbit in the tree, a reprobation which does very good housework with the irony. It is also, for the visitor, the interest of exposed works: irresistible temptation - and that because of the formal perfection - to look at them lengthily to understand, give in the context or simply to reconstitute a history bus Hogarth make a success of sometimes the wonder to work out a complicated and psychological account in only one work as in this fabric ambiguous with wish but not so enigmatic that that which is the Stake or the Virtue in danger (1759).The life is a theatre. Often a theatre of cruelty as in these formidable prints entitled Stages of the cruelty (1751) which one says that they were at the origin of the first law punishing the authors of ill treatments towards the animals in 1822.There are softness, and it is by them, as waiting of a peace to come, than closes in apotheosis this exemplary exhibition : The Commercial one of shrimps (1740-1745), if spontaneous, if beautiful and so merry in spite of the hardness of the labor. And the portrait of its six servants (1750-1755), work whose high virtuosity is almost made forget, almost to sweep by the emotion which it releases : long and tender caress of brushes and something like the obviousness of kindness and simplicity.

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