William Hogarth: Tailpiece, or The Bathos

(1187 words)

Tailpiece, or The Bathos, published on 17 April 1764, six months before his death on 26 October, was Hogarth's last print and self-proclaimed finale. In an advertisement in the St James's Chronicle for 14 April 1764 he announced: “it may serve as a tailpiece to all the author's engraved works when bound up together.” It is a bleak, pessimistic memento mori for the artistic, political and cultural worlds, as Hogarth found them in mid eighteenth-century England, comparable in tone and urgency to Pope's apocalyptic ending to The Dunciad, Book IV, published twenty years earlier in 1743 (see separate entry). Like Pope, Hogarth had come to feel, at this late stage in his life, that Chaos's “dread empire” …

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Gordon, Ian. "Tailpiece, or The Bathos". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 02 December 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=1747, accessed 06 July 2015.]