William Hogarth Trust
registered charity no.1092251

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Pug’s Progress: Hogarth & Animals

An exhibition at Hogarth’s House until 2 October 2016, admission free, open Tuesday-Sunday 12 noon to 5pm
houndsA very fine exhibition looking at Hogarth’s depictions of animals is now on at Hogarth’s House. Based on research by Stephanie Howard-Smith, it looks at 18th century attitudes to animals including working animals as well as pets. Two WHT trustees, Sheila O’Connell and Val Bott, helped with picture research and designer Toni Marshall has ensured that the exhibition looks very handsome.

Cat with swirling tail
The enlarged images in the exhibition show that Hogarth was very aware of the way animals moved, sat and snarled and could depict them in amazing details despite the small size of the originals. As well as his favourite pug dogs, there are kittens, bats and a performing bear, a basket of herrings and even a huge crocodile, based on one shown hanging from an apothecary’s ceiling.
Boy with cockerel
Loans to the exhibition include a very fine 18th century dog collar and cock-fighting spurs. A Wedgwood teapot and bowl have knobs on their lids moulded in the form of tiny lap-dogs on cushions. An antique wire bird cage symbolises the 18th century fashion for keeping small songbirds in the home and a replica of a bird-pot recalls the past practice of using these on the walls of houses in town to encourage nesting birds for food. Even two animals that once lived at Hogarth’s House get a mention, in an image of the memorial stones which stood in the garden until the 1850s, recording the deaths of a pet bird and a dog.

Hogarth’s Ninepins

rules for skittles cropped

One of the features which has intrigued the project team at Hogarth’s House is the question of skittles or ninepins. Hogarth apparently played this game with his friends in his nut walk at Chiswick. A nut walk is being planned for the “exhibition garden” at Hogarth’s House and there will be a place to play the game, possibly using pins crafted from the timber of some diseased trees which will have to be felled.

Ninepins was a popular 18th century game – and it wasn’t the gentle children’s game or the table top pub game that we know today but a grown up, very competitive outdoor game with betting and drunken violence in pub gardens! We hope visitors to the new garden will be slightly better behaved . . .

Find out more on the Parks & Gardens UK website