37.8 x 33.0cm platemark
Hogarth trained as a silver engraver and was practicing as an engraver by 1720. After studying in Vanderbank’s and Thornhill’s Academies, he became active as a painter c.1728; in 1735 he set up his own drawing academy in St Martin’s Lane. At first he painted conversation pieces, but he achieved his greatest success with the “modern moral subjects” (beginning with the ‘Harlot’s Progress’) that he engraved himself and sold by subscription to a wide public. He also painted history subjects and, in the 1740s, applied himself to portraiture. In 1757 he was appointed Serjeant painter to the King. Hogarth exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1761 and was elected to the committee of the Society in the same year. His ‘Analysis of Beauty’ was published in 1753.
Hogarth’s reputation as an artist has been based almost exclusively on his engravings rather than his paintings. They established him as an entirely original force in English art and marked the beginning of an unrivalled tradition of visual satire. By organizing images into series that tell a complete story of contemporary life, Hogarth created a new kind of work of art, one that has its counterpart in the pages of Defoe, Swift and Hogarth’s friend and admirer, Henry Fielding.
“The print is an elaborate satire on the growth of Methodism within the Church of England and its success with common people. The underlying premise, expressed in the preacher’s monastic tonsure revealed under his wig and in countless other emblems, is that Methodism is nothing more than a covert revival of Catholicism at its most assertive and crudely populist.” David Bindman ‘Hogarth and His Times’, p. 124
Ronald Paulson, Hogarth's graphic works, New Haven, 1965. no.210