An exhibition at Hogarth’s House until 2 October 2016, admission free, open Tuesday-Sunday 12 noon to 5pm
A 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.
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.
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.