William Hogarth's House reopens in Chiswick with a little help from Lottery and Dara O'Briain

By Culture24 Reporter | 14 November 2011
A photo of a sculpture of a man inside an 18th century drawing room
The bedroom at Hogarth's House is open to the public again
© Katri Salonen
The reverence placed upon William Hogarth’s six-picture 18th century series, Marriage-a-la-Mode, positions the lover of London streetlife as a man whose work would be vital were he around to survey Britain today.

A scathing moralistic farce told in intense detail, it features gout-torn dignitaries, a bankrupt fool by the name of Earl Squanderfield, miserly city traders and maidens consigned to instantly disastrous marriages.

Hogarth is too easily pigeonholed as a thumb-noser. He was undoubtedly a brilliant lampooner, but also an exceptional painter, engraver and printmaker, and these paintings – now held in the National Gallery, and preceded by parodies of stock market crashes and socio-economic follies – established him as a genius with an influence which would emanate far into the future.

His old house, swept towards by pathways encased by lush gardens and spindle-branched trees, is a sight to behold in itself, set in a West London suburb which was once a separate village from the metropolis. And following an overhaul costing more than £300,000, the public can now enter it again.

"Hogarth created timeless satires," said Dara O'Briain, speaking at a ceremony to celebrate the reopening. "His pictures are full of jokes. For most jokes, you had to be there to understand them. This home enables us to be there, to see the context. That is the joy of a house like this."

It took three years to complete the restoration, backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Hounslow Council and a number of other trusts and charities.

Panels line the walls by way of commentary, early wood floorboards and shutters have been embellished to resemble the sheen they possessed two centuries ago, and even the panelling has been painted in 18th century tints.

Elsewhere, replicas of furniture from Hogarth's prints, his palette and mahl sticks, punchbowls, card counters and a stand for the bowl his pug dog once supped from fill the place with a sense of his spirit.

It used to serve as a gallery stacked with prints, but consultations showed that visitors wanted the atmosphere of the house to be revived, which should be ensured by the introduction of features such as a specially commissioned costume which children can wear to compare themselves with Hogarth's portraits.

"Hogarth is the quintessential London artist, a genius chronicler of people and society at a time when Britain was in flux, divided, and anxious about corruption," said Wesley Kerr, the Chair of the HLF in London.

"His superbly restored home in what was once the quiet 18th century village of Chiswick tells the story of the life of a great man in a cosy domestic setting and shows us that his ideas, images and prints are as relevant now as in his own time."

  • Hogarth's House, Hogarth Lane, Great West Road, London. Open 12pm-5pm Tuesday-Sunday. Admission free.
A photo of a school pupil looking at a portrait of an 18th century man with a dog
Hogarth's House holds an extensive collection of the artist's 18th century prints and a set of his engraving plates© Anna Kunst

A photo of a young schoolgirl looking at a box inside a gallery
A fire in 2009 set back the schedule of the restoration© Anna Kunst

A photo of a group of people looking happy in suits inside a museum
Comedian Dara O'Briain enjoyed the reopening of the famous house© Anna Kunst
A photo of a schoolboy in 18th century dress standing in an old house
The stories of other former residents of the house are also told in the revitalised display
© Anna Kunst
A photo of a drawing room inside an 18th century house with artworks on the walls
The house was open in time for what would have been Hogarth's 314th birthday, on November 10 2011
© Katri Salonen

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