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Practical FormAbstraction, Technique, and Beauty in Eighteenth-Century Aesthetics$
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Abigail Zitin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780300244564

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300244564.001.0001

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The Analysis of Beauty, I

The Analysis of Beauty, I

Practical Formalism

(p.84) Chapter Three The Analysis of Beauty, I
Practical Form

Abigail Zitin

Yale University Press

In The Analysis of Beauty (1753), William Hogarth builds his theory of aesthetic judgment around the technical know-how of the practitioner. Early in the treatise, he recommends that his reader model her encounter with the visual world on the artist’s method of reproducing and enlarging an image by means of a superimposed grid. Artistic techniques for perfecting the two-dimensional rendering of three-dimensional perception become, for Hogarth, tools, both real and virtual, for understanding spatial form. Given his investment in practice as a model for perception, Hogarth is especially sensitive to the advantages and obstacles of language as an expressive medium. The chapter closes by exploring Hogarth’s treatment of verbal media—discussions of letter forms, protestations of his own writerly ineptitude, decoding of painters’ jargon—and arguing on that basis for a nascent conception of medium-specificity at work in the Analysis.

Keywords:   Hogarth, William, The Analysis of Beauty, Spatial form, Artistic technique, Craft knowledge

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