Hogarth House celebrates 100 years
Luminaries turn out to mark milestone for local treasure
The Bank Holiday weekend saw the 100th anniversary of the opening of Hogarth’s House as a museum. Hogarth’s country house, which he owned between 1749 and his death in 1764, was bought by Lieut Col Robert Shipway when threatened with demolition in 1901. He funded its restoration, commissioned replica 18th century furniture from the Chiswick Art Wiorkers’ Guild and provided a collection of more than 100 Hogarth prints to display there, opening it to visitors for the first time on 1 June 1904, admission sixpence.
The centenary programme was put on by the William Hogarth Trust, already known for commissioning the statue of Hogarth in Chiswick High Road. the trust obtained a lottery grant from the Awards for All scheme which funded the celebrations in a marquee in Hogarth’s garden. The weekend was blessed by fine weather and over 300 people took part in the events and activities there.
With the help of Sir Peter Blake, the Trust threw a party for over 90 people, a mix of local supporters, like brewer Anthony Fuller, and celebrities such as Sir Christopher Frayling, new Chairman of the Arts Council, Royal Academicians including Bill Bowyer and Humphrey Ocean, and many others from the worlds of art, history and music – most of whom had never visited the House before. Ronald Paulson, the American Hogarth expert, cut short a holiday in Venice to join the party and solicitor Francis Piesse, great-grandson of the solicitor who handled the sale of the house in 1901, was also there.
The aim of the party was to bring influential people to the House in the hope that they would act as champions and supporters of its work in the future. The event was graced by members of the Covent Garden Minuet Company in full court costume, last seen in Chiswick at the 2002 Hogarth Birthday Party, offering a little 18th century elegance!
The next day, the last day of school before half term, the Trust provided a centenary treat for the children of William Hogarth School. Over a hundred children, gathered on the lawn beside the marquee, were astonished to see Mr Hogarth come out of his house to greet them! Actor Michael really looked the part and joined the whole afternoon’s events, introducing John Styles’ magical traditional Punch and Judy show and handing out party bags at the gate as the children left.
On the Saturday and Sunday afternoons, artist Julia Douglas took over the marquee. She offered children and their families the chance to make wonderful collages, using faces and figures from Hogarth’s prints as inspiration. And on Saturday night James Wisdom, the Chairman of the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society, provided a hugely entertaining talk for an audience of 50, despite the noise of the A4 traffic and the aeroplanes overhead! Using three of Hogarth’s series of prints on “Modern Moral Subjects”, he explained the full meaning of the images and showed how an 18th century audience would have interpreted them.
The centenary exhibition, with a free illustrated information sheet, is now on at Hogarth’s House until the end of October, admission free. It looks at the campaign to save the House from demolition in 1901 and what Chiswick was like at the time the museum there first opened.
Chairman of the Trust, Val Bott, said “I am enormously grateful to the Awards for All Scheme for their grant and to my fellow trustees and committee members who put in many hours of planning, fund-raising and practical work to make the anniversary weekend a great success. We are delighted that so many people were able to take part in these events – you only get one centenary and we felt it was really important to have a proper celebration!”
The trustees of the William Hogarth Trust are Chrissy Blake, Val Bott, Hugh Brendon and Peter Eversden. Executive Committee members are Jason Bowyer, Marcia Hurst, Anna Jackson, Jonathan McCafferty, Pat Sterne and Elisabeth Whittaker
June 26, 2004