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Sound, Order, and Elitism

In the eighteenth century William Hogarth pioneered what was essentially a different way of looking and of being looked at. He was reacting in part against his contemporaries, positioning himself apart from their scene. Hogarth’s engraving, The Enraged Musician, falls in the middle of this developing argument. However, its influences are not what they might seem.

The chapter presents a reading of The Enraged Musician which traces the influences of the work, examining, in particular, the visual and aural tradition of ‘The Cryes of London’. The chapter draws on theories of visuality (de Bolla, 2003), locating the work amongst Hogarth’s oeuvre, to identify The Enraged Musician as an early proponent of the culture of visuality which emerged in the eighteenth century. The themes of sound, order, and elitism are central to both the reading of the engraving as well as the thesis as a whole. The Enraged Musician is about looking and being looked at, but its visual fabric is entirely sonorous: hearing and being heard.

The second part of the chapter reveals a set of Italian engravings which served as a visual model for both Hogarth’s Enraged Musician and The Distrest Poet, adding to a collection of “borrowings” already established in Hogarth’s work (Antal, 1947). Examining the relation between model and the development of The Enraged Musician from preparatory sketches through revised states, the chapter proposes that the nature of Hogarth’s departure from the model can be understood according to emerging sensibilities, thus combining this discovery with contemporary theories of visuality to support the reading of the engraving.

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Chapter 1
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S. Crayton: ‘Sound, Order, and Elitism’, Out of Order (University of Cambridge, 2023), pp. 1-24.


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Cambridge String Quartet in rehearsal (my photo).

Extract from Haydn quartet, op. 103/i (live performance, Nov. 2022).

Extract from Beethoven quartet, op. 135/iii (live performance, Nov. 2022).

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