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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Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Thanks so much for this post, Janet!! I also adore Hogarth and didn’t realize it was his birthday :))

Diane Gaston
11 years ago

Happy Birthday, Hogarth!

Part of the attraction of 18th century Vauxhall Gardens were the paintings attributed to Hogarth. Hogarth was a great supporter of Vauxhall Gardens and he had a gold ticket giving him free admission for life. It’s in the British Museum.

Barbara Monajem
11 years ago

There’s a funny, vulgar drawing by Hogarth where Gulliver is being punished in a rather crude manner. I shall say no more because it’s a potty humour sort of picture.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Hogarth! I hope to get to see your house someday.

Jane George
11 years ago

Ha! I love #5, and wish I possessed that kind of wit and courage when in a tight spot.

Elena Greene
11 years ago

Thanks for the great post, Janet. I am with you in loving that painting of the servants. So real, so human, neither idealized nor charicaturized.

11 years ago

I think I learned about the existence of the Foundling Hospital from the post here. At any rate, I visited it on my trip to London this past September and found it quite moving. Interesting that Hogarth and many of the other supporters were themselves childless — don’t know if that was a cause of their work to help foundlings or a sign of how empathetic they were that, even without children of their own, they could understand the need for humane care of these children.

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