In his last work, Hogarth depicts serious themes in a ridiculous way to convey the message that this period is a time of aesthetical and cultural decline. His latest print creates emotion and admiration. It was published on April 17, 1764 six to seven months before his death, bears the title Tail piece / The Bathos, and for which he writes: ”(it can) serve as a Tail-Piece to all my Engraved Works, when bound together”. This is an invaluable picture of his whole artistic and human life, with the pessimistic and satirical image of the end of his own life, of Chronos-Kronos, and everything in general, but also his immortal invention of Beauty. The main representation is also the last satire of Sublime in Art and personal Memento mori,(not only for himself, but also for the political, artistic and cultural world of the time), while the lower part of the work, with the texts and the two cones, his artistic will, makes reference to his belief that he found the immortal «Line of Beauty», as described in his studyThe Analysis of Beauty (1753), similarly to the aniconic symbol of Aphrodite, the conic form in which the goddess was worshiped in ancient Paphos.
From the mouth of an exhausted Time, lying among what his scythe has mowed, comes the word FINIS (The End). All the ”Values” of the world are destroyed, it is the end of the world, and the show is over (”exeunt omnes”). However, the part of the work below the image reveals a more optimistic testament. Two cones-idols of Cypriot Aphrodite, symbols of true beauty, accompanied by explanatory texts, symbolise the eternity of beauty, which Hogarth had depicted in his work Analysis of Beauty (1753) as serpentine line, like the one wrapped in the stone cone of ancient Aphrodite.
William Hogarth (1697 – 1764) printmaker,
Tail piece / The Bathos – etching and engraving – 1764
(1st state of the plate)
Plate: 31.8 cm x 33.7 cm – Sheet: 64 cm x 48 cm
No 662 – Αcquisition 2009