Georgian art 2: … and if that made you heave

In my last post I must have been seeing through a port glass darkly, suggesting that Eighteenth Century history was God working His purpose out through wild but enlightened Anglican gentlemen. After I’ve written a post I sometimes test it by mentally reading it back to a neighbour of ours, a Suffragette’s great-niece and a descendant for her to be proud of. Her reaction would be something like this.


(c) Norwich Castle Museum

William Hogarth’s Francis Matthew Schultz spewing into a chamberpot was commissioned by his wife Susan Bacon, tired of his bachelor boozing habits. It reminds you that in a society that was very much a boys’ club, there were female patrons – and great ones like the Duchess of Marlborough and Queen Caroline – and there were women painters who did as well as most of their male rivals, and more successfully in that profession than any other. And the Georgian moral evolution that I love so much is as much due to all the competing contrary elements of that very modern world, from protest and Noncomformism to the domestic character of King George III and Queen Charlotte.

Only in Georgian England – or perhaps Pompeii – could you have a painting like this Hogarth. The Schutzes’ Victorian heirs overpainted it, so that great-grandpapa was shown reading a book.

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