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Hogarth by Roubillac, NPG.

Hogarth by Roubillac, NPG.

… or pleasing things to know about the great London artist.

I’m sure that like me, you hold Hogarth as one of your favourite Londoners. Every year we remember him often, but especially on his birthday, 10 November (1697) and the day he passed away – today, 26 October (1764). Here’s a little crib sheet of Hogarthiana.

  1. Although of humble beginnings in Smithfield, Hogarth lived to become Sergeant Painter to the King.
  2. Like Dickens, his father went to debtors prison, having gone bust running a coffee house where only Latin was permitted to be spoken. It was in St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell.
  3. Even by the standard of the day, Hogarth was a shortarse, standing only five foot tall at the most.
  4. His father-in-law was Sir James Thornhill, celebrated in his day, but less well known now. Thornhill painted the inside of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Painted Hall in Greenwich, and the best known life portrait of notorious prison escapee, Jack Sheppard.
  5. Hogarth was a key figure in the foundation of copyright under the law, thanks to his lobbying for the Engravers’ Copyright Act in 1735 (aka “Hogarth’s Act”), which, with subsequent variations, still protects musicians, artists and other creative professionals to this day.
  6. Hogarth was a founding governor and great supporter of Captain Coram’s Foundling Hospital. He and his wife Jane supervised wet nurseries near their home in Chiswick for babies from the institution. The couple never had children of their own.
  7. Hogarth, having been criticised by charismatic political firebrand John Wilkes, created arguably the best-known image of the politician, a vicious caricature.
  8. The Hogarth family tomb in Chiswick was endowed by the actor David Garrick, a great friend of his.
  9. Hogarth ordered a trade card for his pug, Trump, from a printer at one of the Thames ice fairs.
  10. On his only foray beyond these shores, Hogarth got arrested in Calais in 1748 – ostensibly for spying. This didn’t help to disabuse his jaundiced view of foreigners and their ways.

There are, of course, many many other pleasing Hogarth things. Please add your own in the Comments.

William Hogarth on Wikipedia.
William Hogarth Trust.

St John's Gate, Clerkenwell, site of Hogarth Senior's ill-conceived coffee house.

St John’s Gate, Clerkenwell, site of Hogarth Senior’s ill-conceived coffee house.

Hogarth's House, Chiswick. The artist's country home 1749 until his death.

Hogarth’s House, Chiswick. The artist’s country home 1749 until his death.

Hogarth takes a pop at John Wilkes.

Hogarth takes a pop at John Wilkes.

Hogarth family tomb. St Nicholas churchyard, Chiswick. 2014 on the 300th anniversary of his death.

Hogarth family tomb. St Nicholas churchyard, Chiswick. 2014 on the 250th anniversary of his death.

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