Ernst Ludwig Riepenhausen, 1850. Engraving, with some stipple. Image measures 7.75 x 5.75 inches. Sheet measures 14.75 x 10.5 inches.
This print which was originally published in 1736 illustrates Hogarth's ability to find humor even in the most sacred and solemn of places. Hogarth presents The Sleeping Congregation as an Anglican church filled with parishioners who are so bored by the service that most have drifted off to sleep. This is in contrast to the fanatical enthusiasm of the Methodist congregation depicted in this prints companion piece. Even the minister is barely awake enough to read the lines of Scripture which appropriately read, Come unto me all ye that Labour and are Heavy Laden & I will give you rest from Matthew 11:28. Hypocrisy is always a favorite theme in graphic satire and Hogarth does not miss an opportunity to make a small jab at the Church of England's presumption of untarnished virtuousness. The only person who is awake, therefore, is a stoutly clerk ogling a sleeping young woman's bosom. This edition is considered after Hogarth and was engraved by Ernst Ludwig Riepenhausen circa 1850 for a German collection of Hogarth's works, "Erklärung Hogarthischen." Very good condition with some foxing and minor tearing around the wide margins. William Hogarth (1697-1764) is considered by many scholars and print enthusiasts as the grandfather of English graphic satire, but he was also an accomplished oil painter, portraitist, engraver, and draughtsman. Hogarth mastered the art of depicting human nature and all of its hypocrisies in society with graphic satire. The universality of his humor and the all-too-human characters featured in his works make Hogarth's satires remarkable. This print represents the epitome of Hogarth's skills as an artist and as a conscientious observer of humanity.