10 Interesting Facts about William Hogarth

Mon 25 Jun


On 25th June 283 years ago, British Parliament passed Hogarth's Act, the first copyright act of its kind, with no small thanks to the radical satirist and talented artist William Hogarth, who fought tirelessly for the law. He is also the subject of the Rose theatrical event of the year Hogarth's Progress which explores his life in London through two monumental nights on the town. To celebrate, we have 10 things you may not know about William Hogarth.

  1. William Hogarth was born in Smithfield, London 10th November 1697, the fifth child in his family.
  2. His father, classical scholar Richard Hogarth, opened a Latin-speaking coffeehouse. Not a good move considering it bankrupted the family and the elder Hogarth was sent to Fleet Prison for five years due to his huge debt. 
  3. Hogarth found his talent for engraving whilst working as an apprentice in a silver workshop and after seven years opened his own plate engraving shop.
  4. He disliked drawing models in a formal setting and preferred to take inspiration from actual life.
  5. Hogarth was an admirer of artist Sir James Thornhill, especially his late baroque paintings and in 1724 joined a drawing school in Thornhill's house. 
  6. Hogarth made powerful enemies at the start of his career by attacking the contemporary taste of influential art connoisseurs including the 3rd Earl of Burlington for their prejudice in favour of foreign artists. He sustained this view his entire life and was never afraid to ruffle a few feathers. 
  7. Hogarth eloped with Thornhill's daughter Jane in March 1729. The pair never had children.
  8. He loved the theatre and his first dated painting was called A Beggar's Opera, depicting a scene from John Gay's opera where highwayman Macheath stands between his lovers, Lucy Lockit and Polly Peachum, chained under sentence of death.
  9. Hogarth had a pet pug called Trump which he included in his self portrait aptly named, The Painter and his Pug. 
  10. Actor and friend David Garrick composed a poem for Hogarth's tombstone which lies at St Nicholas Church, Chiswick, London. It reads:

Farewell great Painter of Mankind
Who reach'd the noblest point of Art
Whose pictur'd Morals charm the Mind
And through the Eye correct the Heart.

If Genius fire thee, Reader, stay,
If Nature touch thee, drop a Tear:
If neither move thee, turn away,
For Hogarth's honour'd dust lies here.

 Hogarth's Progress runs at the Rose Thu 13 Sep - Sun 21 Oct. For more information, click here


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