The Bruiser (1763) by William Hogarth

The Bruiser - William Hogarth - 1763

Artwork Information

TitleThe Bruiser
ArtistWilliam Hogarth
Dimensions13 5/16 x 10 3/16 in
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationPrivate Collection

About The Bruiser

“The Bruiser,” an artwork by William Hogarth from 1763, is a fine example of Baroque-era caricature. This engraving on paper measures 13 5/16 x 10 3/16 inches and is presently held in a private collection. Hogarth is known for artworks that critique societal norms and behaviors, and this piece likely follows that tradition.

The artwork presents a satirical scene depicting a bear wearing a man’s collar and a cap, seated behind a circular desk or opening that resembles a painting or engraving frame. The bear is aggressively tearing apart a collection of papers, suggesting a critique of some aspect of politics, society, or an individual’s action. The animal’s attire and action anthropomorphize it, attributing human characteristics and behaviors in a grotesque emulation of societal figures.

To the left, a dog with an intense gaze looks on, its posture one of attention or possibly trepidation at the bear’s activity. Various objects accompany the scene, including spilled ink and a tankard, both of which enhance the chaotic and destructive air about the bear’s action. On the ground, an open book and a sheet of paper possibly provide a context or target of the bear’s aggression, suggesting themes of intellectual or political debate, which were often the subjects of Hogarth’s satirical eye. The expertly executed engraving techniques deliver a complex and rich texture, adding depth to the shadows and fabrics depicted.

The layers of symbolic elements in this caricature invite a deeper examination of the social or personal commentary Hogarth intended, characteristic of the nuanced and often critical nature of his work.

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