This looks set to be the year of William Hogarth, with no less than 10 exhibitions, two operas, three concerts and one memorial service planned in celebration of his tercentenary.
At his very best, Hogarth was one of the great painters of the 18th century: witness the Tate Gallery's Shrimp Girl; their recently restored Self Portrait with Pug; or the portrait of Captain Thomas Coram, still owned by the Foundling Hospital to which Hogarth presented it in 1740. These three will be on view from 4 March in the Tate's "Hogarth the Painter", but they are not the pictures on which his reputation rests.
Hogarth painted as many bad pictures as good ones, but his place in the history of British art depends on his work as a print-maker, not as a painter. The prints highlight the cruel underside of 18th-century life and demonstrate the dark genius of Britain's most brilliant satirist.
Many of Hogarth's most famous prints will feature in exhibitions throughout the year, including those at the V&A, the British Museum and the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, but the first chance to see, and indeed buy, some of these masterworks comes later this week with the opening of the 12th London Original Print Fair at the Royal Academy.
Andrew Edmunds, one of 24 dealers showing at the fair, is staging a mini-exhibition of Hogarth's early prints, including the complete series of The Rake's Progress and Marriage a la Mode. His stand promises to be one of the highlights of an event which is consistently one of the best British art fairs of the year.
EYE ON THE NEW
This week is the last chance to catch "A Line of Retreat", the latest exhibition of Hughie O'Donoghue's moody and often moving paintings and prints. They can, and should be seen, at the Purdy Hicks Gallery, Hopton Street, London SE1, until 1 MarchReuse content