Friday, 26 October 2012

William Hogarth and Sigismunda Mourning over the Heart of Guiscardo

'Sigismunda Mourning over the Heart of Guiscardo' (1759) by William Hogarth;
Tate Britain, London

I couldn't really make a choice today and I had initially dismissed English painter William Hogarth, born on 10 November 1697 and died on 26 October 1764. I'm not a big fan of his work but when I saw this painting of Sigismunda, I had to doublecheck its painter because it doesn't look like a Hogarth painting at all and I like it. The Tate says about this painting: "This was Hogarth's most deliberate attempt to prove that modern English painters could handle heroic themes as convincingly as the revered Italian old masters." Although Hogarth had expressed his distaste for the old Renaissance masters, he copied their style for this painting. It's a depiction of a dramatic scene from Boccaccio's Decameron. Sigismunda clutches the golden cup to her heart, sent to her by her father. Inside the cup is the heart of her dead husband Giuscardo, one of her father's servants. Distraught at the death of her beloved husband, she puts poison in the cup and kills herself. Hogarth had to endure harsh criticism for this painting and almost abandoned painting altogether for the last years of his life. For more information, click here.

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