Just minutes away from the hotels in Hogarth road, situated opposite the A4 road, Hogarth’s House was the country home of one of England’s foremost artist, satirist and cartoonist, William Hogarth. Now a Grade 1 listed building, it is owned by the London Borough of Hounslow and has been opened as a museum to commemorate Hogarth’s work and life.
Hogarth: The Man
William Hogarth was born on the 10th November 1697 in London to Richard Hogarth, who was later imprisoned for debt, and Anne Gibbons. In his youth he became an apprentice to Ellis Gamble, a silver engraver who taught him how to engrave trade cards; this gave Hogarth the skills he needed to produce prints. By 1720, Hogarth was an established engraver and was working for himself and by 1757 he found himself appointed to the notable position of Serjeant Painter to King George II. He died in 1764 and is buried in St Nicholas’s Churchyard, Chiswick.
His work has spanned for decades due to his ability to tell stories through his paintings that depict real-life issues such as the follies of humanity as well as his acute business sense; this saw him sell prints at reasonable prices to allow a much wider scope of people who could afford his work and, therefore, increase his audience. Hogarth’s art is now defined as the best representation of life in Georgian London, as popular now as it was then.
- The Harlot’s Progress
This incredible piece of work depicts the image of M. Hackabout who comes to London from the country and finds work as a prostitute. These series of paintings and engravings begin with M. Hackabout arriving in London and an old, diseased woman praising her beauty and suggesting a form of occupation while a gentleman stands in the background fondling himself suggestively. The second image shows M. as a mistress of two lovers in a beautiful home with a servant and a monkey while the third sees her falling from grace and becoming a common prostitute. The fourth picture shows M. in prison beating hemp for the hangman’s rope and the fifth shows her dying in front of her son from a sexually transmitted disease while being robbed by her landlady. The sixth and final picture shows M. Hackabout dead at the age of 23 surrounded by her fellow working girls and her pimp who procured her in the first image.
- Marriage à-la-mode
Considered one of Hogarth’s greatest pieces, this work shows the dangers of arranged marriages and depicting that the rich may not live the virtuous lives that they portray. The first picture shows the arrangement being made between a bankrupt Earl and a wealthy merchant; the Earl’s son views himself in the mirror while the merchant’s daughter is consoled by the lawyer. The second picture depicts the marriage beginning to breakdown with evidence of infidelity on both of their parts which is proved by the third picture where the husband seeks out treatment for his syphilis which has been contracted from the prostitute next to him. The fourth in the series shows that the Earl has died and the husband now holding the title of Earl; it also points to the wife and the lawyer both having an affair.
The penultimate painting shows the Earl catching his wife in the midst of an affair and a fight has ensued, causing the Earl to be fatally wounded, the wife is on her knees begging forgiveness. The last picture shows the Countess dying due to poisoning herself due to her widowhood and loss of her husband and lover.
Built in the early part of the 18th century, it was first occupied as a country home by Reverend George Andreas Ruperti who helped thousands of refugees travel to America. After his death in 1731, Hogarth purchased the house off Reverend George’s son and extended the building in 1750, using it as a country retreat until his death in 1764.
Reverend Henry Francis Cary, who was known for his translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, lived in the House from 1814 to 1833 where it was then bought by the Wickstead family. In 1867, the actor Newton Treen Hicks resided here and in 1890 the House was rescued by Alfred Dawson, whose own family home adjoined Hogarth’s House. He restored the House but sold it in 1900 where it was listed for auction in the hopes of redevelopment. Lieutenant-Colonel Robert William Shipway bought the property and, with input from Hogarth’s biographer Henry Austin Dobson and Frederick Peel, restored the House to its former glory with replica furniture and Hogarth’s works. The House was presented to Middlesex County Council in 1909 which then became Hounslow Council in 1965.
Much needed refurbishment work was carried out after a fire at the House in 2009; even though this left no damage to prints or furniture, it badly damaged the staircase and a room as well as causing smoke damage and water damage in other areas. It all had to be carefully restored but this gave restoration conservationists a chance to reveal original features and repair them; this included shutters, original floorboards and fire hearths. The House was reopened to the public in 2011 by comedian Dara O Briain and shows off Shipway’s replica furniture pieces and Hogarth’s prints and engravings, such as The Harlot’s Progress, Marriage a-la-mode and The Rake’s Progress. The garden also underwent a transformation, especially the mulberry tree that is the last remaining tree of the original orchard from the 1670’s and was damaged during World War II. It was gently brought back by the arboriculturists of Kew Gardens and it now stands proud and restored in the garden.
Hogarth’s 250th anniversary of his death was marked with a special exhibition in 2014. There were artworks from over 50 celebrities and artists, including Cath Kidston, Quentin Blake, Joanna Lumley and Jacqueline Wilson in tribute to Hogarth.
It is a beautiful commemoration to a great London artist and one whose work still affects today’s audience. It is certainly worth a trip to visit this exquisite House so pick your accommodation from one of the many hotels in Hogarth road and allow yourself be swept back to the Georgian times.