He was born in London, and was apprenticed to a silversmith, Ellis Gamble, following which he studied at the St Martin's Lane Academy. He secretly married the daughter of Sir James Thornhill in 1729. Soon after this, he painted The Harlot's Progress series, which was followed by the various other series of paintings of immorality for which he became famous: The Rake's Pogress, Mariage a la Mode, Industry and Idleness, The Stages of Cruelty and The Election. He also produced many one-offs, and made his own engravings from his pictures. He was appointed Serjeant Painter to the King in 1757. He also wrote Analysis of Beauty and was the driving force behind the first Copyright Act for artists (1735).
As the first British painter to acquire a truly international reputation, Hogarth's works in any museum are usually on display rather than hidden in the reserve collection. The best place to see his work is at the John Soane Museum. The Tate Gallery also has a room devoted to him for the time being, with various portraits and pictures showing his depiction of cruelty and dissipation.
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