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British Great Artist William Hogarth - A Year in the Life 1748

Posted by Art Of Legend India [dot] Com On 4:28 AM
British repulse at Pondicherry, The inevitable clash between the rival French and British trading interests in India began in 1744. The appearance of a British fleet in the Indian Ocean led Joseph Dupleix, Governor of Pondicherry to summon to his aid La Bourdonnais, and Governor of Martinique. They succeeded in capturing Madras from the British in the same year but due to quarrels between the two Frenchmen, no further progress was made. In mid-1748 the British took the offensive, appearing with 13 ships of the line off the Coromandel coast. Their siege of Pondicherry was a dismal failure, marked by singular ineptitude, and was raised only a week before the news of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle reached the subcontinent. Through this Madras was ceded back to the English in return for Louisborg in New France.

A Year in the Life 1748 

This was a year in which the long-awaited general peace was made between the European powers at Aix-la-Chapelle and in which Hogarth was jailed in France as an English spy. More profound and enduring in their impact, however, were the tremendous achievements of 1748 in the fields of art and science.

The peace settlement of 1748 which ended the War of the Austrian Succession allowed Hogarth to visit France, where his drawings of the fortifications at Calais landed him in prison on suspicion of being an English agent. He revenged himself in characteristic style by painting Calais Gate, also known as The Roast Beef of Old England in which the John Bullish portrayal of Frenchmen as scrawny starvelings gave splendid expression to the British prejudice that lasted well into the following century.

Buried city, In 79 AD a phenomenal volcanic eruption buried towns and villas in the vicinity of Vesuvius. Excavations began at Herculaneum in 1738, to be followed ten years later by the discovery of the larger city of Pompeii. The artistic treasures unearthed were to profoundly influence the development of 18th century Neo-Classical taste. Finalized in October at Aix-la-Chapelle, the peace put an end to a complicated and futile conflict of major powers which had involved most European states from Spain and Sardinia in the west to the newly emergent great power of Russia in the east. The most solid gains were made by Frederick the Great of Prussia, who kept the province of Silesia which he had snatched from Maria Theresa in 1741 when her title to the Habsburg dominions was under threat. Although the Austrian Queen's rights under the Pragmatic Sanction were now universally recognized and her husband had been elected to the office of the Holy Roman Emperor as Francis I, Maria Theresa still hoped to revenge herself on Prussia and recover Silesia. Britain and France accepted a restoration of the status quo but the stage had been set for their struggle for mastery in North America and India.

David Hume, This brilliant Scotsman published his Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding in 1748, in which he argued his theory of knowledge and meaning based on empirical lines. This standpoint led to Hume's Skepticism, by which he accepted the natural belief in causality but showed it could not be proved on a rational basis.
However of greater note perhaps were the cultural and scientific events of 1748. The Swiss Leonhard Euler, at the height of his powers, published a pioneering introduction to analytical mathematics. Sociology and the study of comparative institutions were effectively founded by L'Esprit des Lois (The Spirit of the Laws), in which the French thinker Montesquieu made the first sustained attempt to describe the way in which societies are shaped by climate, history, religion and other factors. In Britain, the first part of David Hume's Enquiry concerning Human Understanding appeared. Hume, a Scot, is still regarded as Britain's greatest philosopher, and the radical scepticism of his Enquiry was to shock both rational and religious thinkers, since it denied the possibility of certainty.



Virtue unrewarded, Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, has a curiously similar plot to his previous novel Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded. However, Clarissa's lot is less fortunate. To escape an approved marriage she falls into the clutches of the scheming rake Lovelace who eventually rapes her. The unhappy girl refuses marriage and dies in a debtors' prison. Another Scot, Tobias Smollett, made his literary debut with the novel Roderick Random, a typically rude, racy work, peopled with a gallery of entertaining grotesques. The sensation of the year, however, was a million-word story by an elderly ex-printer. Samuel Richardson's Clarissa is probably the longest novel in English. Nevertheless the book was to be read avidly all over the civilized world. Richardson's achievement was to bring a new range of psychological perceptions to the description of human behaviour but his contemporary popularity probably owed more to another of Clarissa's qualities its excellence as soap opera. Through obstacles, hesitations and changes of fortune Clarissa is pursued by the macho Lovelace. Even when the pursuit ends shockingly in rape there is a twist for Lovelace offers marriage, a proposal that is followed by a further twist Clarissa refuses. . . and dies.

A different kind of surprise had been recorded a few years earlier by the dilettante Horace Walpole on the Grand Tour.

'We have seen something today that I am sure you never read of, and perhaps never heard of. Have you heard of a subterranean town? A whole Roman town with all its edifices remaining underground' Walpole was referring to Herculaneum in Southern Italy a discovery which was soon eclipsed by that of the far larger city of Pompeii. Like Herculaneum, Pompeii had been buried by mud and lava after the great eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. In revealing so much of the Roman way of life, Roman decorative art and Roman wall paintings, the excavation of Pompeii which began in 1748 gave a tremendous new impetus to the worship of 'Antiquity', and was largely responsible for the development of the great European style that dominated the late 18th century Neo-Classicism.

Writer – Marshall Cavendish

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