Reading the Body: Physiognomics

Plate I
 
Industry and Idleness,<BR>Plate I
Title Industry and Idleness
Plate I, The Fellow 'Prentices at their Looms
Artist William Hogarth
Date 1747 (reprinted 1822)
Medium Etching and Engraving from Drawings
Location The Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University

Industry and Idleness depicts the career paths of two characters Francis Goodchild and Thomas Idlefrom their apprenticeships to their respective success and demise. The facial characteristics of the `good' versus the `bad' are consistent with both Hogarth's aesthetic theory and the vocabulary of physiognomy.

Thomas Idle's turned-up nose and short, perpendicular forehead are later described by Lavater as the characteristics of a harsh, despotic character. Francis Goodchild, however, is drawn with the line of beauty in the manner of classical sculpture and `simple beauty,' signifying his virtue.

 

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