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  • Writer's pictureHelen

Vice, Satire and Welfare

Step back in time – immerse yourself in Georgian London! Hear the untold stories behind the art of Londoner William Hogarth. Hogarth's work according to essayist Charles Lamb were filled with "the teeming, fruitful, suggestive meaning of words. Other pictures we look at; his pictures we read."

My new talk focuses on the life and times of Londoners in the 1700s through the art of Hogarth from rapid growth of the capital and it's street life, to leisure and entertainment, war, conflict and political upheaval. All this against a back-drop of the darker side of human nature; enormous wealth generated by slavery, sin and vice. Hogarth is perhaps best known for Gin Lane; actually a propaganda tool for the Gin Act of 1751 which ended the public health crisis otherwise known as the gin craze.

Lesser known are the charity, welfare and educational aspects of Hogarth's art and life beyond. Hogarth and his friends were involved in setting up the Foundling Hospital for abandoned children (now the Foundling Museum) which became the first art gallery in the capital (see below for Hogarth's biblical painting of Moses being brought before the Pharaoh's Daughter). Hogarth also supported Bedlam Hospital for the mentally ill and St Bart's Hospital where his artwork still looks over the staircase leading to the Great Hall. Just last week a £5 million lottery funded grant was announced to cover restoring the grand staircase at St Bart's.

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