At a recent gallery show, exhibiting my new series of gold leaf paintings, I heard a comment about Hogarth’s S-Curve. I’ve heard of subtle compositional tools or structures such as angles, curves, symmetry, and geometry to create order and movement in a work, but had not heard of Hogarth before. I went on-line and found some interesting information, noticing I tend to use this “S” thing quite a lot in my work.

William Hogarth, a British painter from the 1700’s, wrote a book called The Analysis of Beauty, which I just ordered on-line and am looking forward to reading it.

A search on Hogarth’s S-Curve turned up the following definition:

“Notion in compositional theory that objects arranged on an S-shaped line suggest grace and beauty.” click here

I also found a nice description from Terry Grant on-line:

“Hogarth proposed that the essence of beauty of line in painting, drawing, nature and design is not the simple geometry of a straight line or circle, or more subtle shapes such as the ellipse, but of curves that modulate from one gradient to another. Such a curve, the “S” curve is such a structure and he called it “the line of beauty”. According to his theory, S-Shaped curved lines signify liveliness and activity and excite the attention of the viewer as contrasted with straight lines, parallel lines, or right-angled intersecting lines which signify stasis, death, or inanimate objects. He goes on to say that the S curve is the basis of all great art.” click here

For more information on Hogarth and examples of his work: click here

To see more of my work in this series (with very noticeable S curves) click here