Happy birthday, Hogarth!

I’m disgracefully late with my blog post today but we still have time to wish William Hogarth a happy birthday. I’m going to give you a few interesting facts about Hogarth who I find such a wonderful, sympathetic sort of person, well ahead of his time in some respects, an artist with a social conscience and sympathy for the underdog–for instance, he was an early proponent of the humane treatment of animals, possibly because he was brought up in Smithfield, London, which was the area where livestock were slaughtered.

Things I love about Hogarth:

  1. His house in Chiswick has just been restored and opened to the public yesterday. Another place to go to!
  2. He included his pug in his self portrait.
  3. He eloped to marry Jane Thornhill, daughter of the artist Sir James Thornhill (I found this online somewhere yesterday and now I can’t find it again. Possibly I made it up because I found it romantic).
  4. He was a party animal: cofounder of The Sublime Society of Beefsteaks, a gentlemen’s club dedicated to the celebration of British beef and liberty, and the Rose and Crown Club, “a bawdy assembly of younger artists and cognoscenti,” who met to discuss art in a pub.
  5. When visiting France shortly after the tenuous Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle he was arrested and proved he was an artist and not an English spy by drawing some very rude cartoons of Frenchmen. Surprisingly he was released.
  6. He was a founder of the Foundling Hospital which I blogged about here along with some other interesting online sites, but do check out the heartbreaking Threads of Feeling exhibit, an online collection of scraps of fabric left with abandoned infants.

Here are a couple of Hogarth’s paintings I really like–his study of his servants and the amazing oil sketch The Shrimp Girl. Which of his paintings/engravings do you like? Any more fun facts about him?


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