These two spirited Designs formed the Frontispiece and Tail-piece to the Catalogue of the Artists' Exhibition in Spring Gardens, 1761; and so great was the demand for the Catalogues with the illustrative Prints of Hogarth, that the two first done were soon worn down, and Mr. Grignion was employed to engrave others from the same drawings.
In the Frontispiece, erected in the cleft of a Rock, we have a building intended for a Reservoir of Water; and by the bust of his late Majesty being placed in the niche of an arch, which is lined with a shell, and surmounted by a crown, we must suppose it a Royal Reservoir. The mouth of a mask of the British Lion is made the Waterspout for conveying a stream into a Garden-pot, which a figure of Britannia holds in her right hand, and, with her spear in the left, is employed in sprinkling three young Trees, the trunks of which are entwined together, and inscribed, "Painting," "Sculpture," "Architecture." These promising saplings are planted upon a gentle declivity. Painting is on the highest ground, and Sculpture on the lowest. It is worthy of remark, that the fructifying stream which issues from the Watering-pot falls short of the surface on which is planted the Tree inscribed "Painting," and goes beyond the root of that termed "Sculpture;" so that "Architecture," which is much the loftiest and most healthy Tree, will have the principal benefit of the water. If the Tree of Painting is attentively inspected, it will be found stunted in its growth, withered at the top, and blest with only one flourishing branch, which, if viewed with an eye to what the Artist has previously written, seems intended for Portrait-painting. The Tree which is the symbol for "Sculpture" appears to bend, and withdraw itself from the Reservoir; one branch from the centre of the trunk is probably funereal, and intended to intimate Sepulchral Monuments. The top, being out of sight, is left to the imagination.
In the Tail-piece, as a contrast to Britannia nurturing the Trees that are introduced in the last Print, a Travelling Monkey, in full dress, is in this industriously watering three withered and sapless stems of what might once have been Flowering Shrubs, and are inscribed "Exotics." These wretched remnants of things which were, are carefully placed in labeled Flower-pots; on which are written, "Obiit 1502;" "Obiit 1600;" "Obiit 1606."
Still adhering to the hieroglyphics in his Frontispiece, Hogarth introduces these three dwarfish importations of decayed Nature, to indicate the state of those old and damaged Pictures which are venerated merely for their antiquity, and exalted above all modern productions, from the name of a great Master, rather than any intrinsic merit. To heighten the ridicule, he has given his Monkey a magnifying-glass that will draw forth beauties invisible to common optics.