Take a day to explore Georgian London and examine the life and works of England’s greatest native artist, William Hogarth (1697-1764).
Born into a family living in Smithfield and on the edge of penury, apprenticed into a trade he soon despised, Hogarth rebelled, deciding to become an artist. Slow at first, from his mid-thirties his rise was meteoric. Campaigning for a law to establish copyright for artists he secured his earnings from self-printed and published versions of his paintings.
Hogarth’s painted characters – his Rake, his Harlot, his Apprentices and their women folk – were incarnations of characters previously confined to the printed page of authors such as Swift, Pope and Defoe. With his visible players he created stories and characters, comic and tragic, that were recognisable to the citizens of the turbulent, early Georgian London. We follow the often-contradictory sides of Hogarth: from child to man, hedonist to moralist, from artist to theorist, party-goer to philanthropist, friend and foe.
Our Hogarthian progress begins at the Foundling Museum, where our Tour Director, Lars Tharp, was formerly Director. Hogarth and his wife Jane were heavily involved with the Foundling Hospital, overseeing foundling children and donating works of art. We move on to a special private visit to the Sir John Soane’s Museum, followed by the National Gallery and Portrait Gallery to view a selection of Hogarth’s self-portraits and his Marriage A-la-Mode series.
Some visits will be made on foot and therefore a reasonable level of fitness is required.
Our Tour Director, Lars Tharp, MA, FSA, is a ceramics historian and well-known freelance lecturer and broadcaster. In the 1990s he was initially drawn to Hogarth by the artist’s photographically accurate depictions of Georgian interiors – including the pottery and porcelain. As he explored Hogarth’s world (writing Hogarth’s China to coincide with the artist’s 300th birthday in 1997) Lars discovered more and more insights into Hogarth’s world, leading him to serve as Director of London’s Foundling Museum, where Hogarth had been an active governor.
Lars Tharp , MA, FSA
Danish-born art historian, lecturer and broadcaster