Do you know what it is?
It pays Julia Roberts 20 million dollars for making a movie.
It gets people around the world to put posters of Michael Jordan on their bedroom walls.
It gets teenagers around the world to imitate the same hair, the same smile, the same get up of the latest teen idol (Brittany Spears, Ricky someone, or whoever…)
It transports copies of the same object all over the world
It extends millions for a idea, but not a dime for an excellent poem.
What is it?


Hogarth and Market Culture

Modernization and the growth of the Market begins in the Enlightenment:
Here are some effects of the emergence of a world market in goods and ideas:

Artists of the Enlightenment respond in two ways: example of John Gay
they develop strategies to survive on the market

counter the empty show and extravagance of Italian opera with English realism; provide English songs to appropriate the appeal of opera;
they articulate complex critiques of the market and its effects upon culture (fashion, imitation, etc.) offer a social and policital critique of the effect of money upon the legal system


Hogarth on the Market

Surviving on the market: There are three keys to Hogarth's success with his Progress Pieces:

I: Developing the market in prints: from single painting to many copies of prints sold by subscription

II: Exploiting the modern enlightenment taste for realism: considered "realistic" because it entails
1) representations of actual people and places,
2) often of "low" (rather than high, sublime or upper class) subjects, and
3) represented in a style that produces effects of verisimilitude (accuracy to language or look) for contemporary audiences

III: Narrating the story of a "modern moral subject":

The Harlot's Progress (1732)

Plate 1: the girl from the country

Plate 2: as a kept woman

Plate 3: a street prostitute

Plate 4: in Bridewell prison

Plate 5: nearing death

Plate 6: the wake for the harlot


What has gone wrong with the harlot's life?
Who or what is to blame?

Key interpretive question of the progress piece: Does the sequence suggest moral responsible freedom of the agents (a la Milton, free to fall), or the enclosure of individuals in a system that traps and manipulates them?

Plate 1:

Plate 2:

Plate 3:

Plate 4:

Plate 5:


Plate 6:


The moral rhetoric of Hogarth's Progress pieces according to Henry Fielding:
In June 10, 1740 essay from The Champion, Fielding praises the morally improving efficacy of the "Harlot's Progress" and the "Rake's Progress" as "calculated more to serve the cause of virtue, and for the preservation of mankind, than all the folios of morality which have been ever written. ... In the excellent Works you see the delusive Scene exposed with all the Force of Humour, and, on casting your Eyes on another Picture, you behold the dreadful and fatal consequence."[194]

There are three key features of this concise description of the progress piece,
1: the opening scene is described as 'delusive'-- that is, the characters within the scene-for example of husband and wife of "Marriage a la Mode" are "deluded" or deceived in their desire to imitate the great, in going along with the arranged marriage, in their oblivion of present danger;
2: but this scene is "exposed" by the 'force' of Hogarth's 'humour'; thus there is a satiric ridicule of the characters which challenges the claims, pretensions, and illusions of the central characters, and the social values they embrace. Since this humor can not prepare the spectator for what comes in subsequent plates, the initial scene may also delude the absorbed first-time reader/ spectator, who may be lulled into the supposition that things are not so bad, that after all, these innocent protagonists are involved in an interesting adventure.
3: Only after "casting your eyes on another picture," and progressing through its sequence of scenes, the spectator "beholds" "the dreadful and fatal consequences" of the earlier scene[s]. The turn in the narrative is violent, not necessarily foreseen, but claimed by Fielding to have a wonderfully ethical efficacy.