The Trust is pleased to report the completion of another project. Visitors to Hogarth’s House who enter at the small gate near the front door now have an experience which has not been possible since at least 1903!
Two elegant urns were given by David Garrick, the celebrated actor, to his great friend William Hogarth between 1749, when the Hogarths acquired their second home in Chiswick, and the artist’s death in 1764. They were placed on the gate piers and can be seen in 19th century photographs and engravings of the House. The lead urns were carefully removed and brought inside for preservation when Lieut-Colonel Shipway of Grove House began creating a museum there.
The urns have swags of fruit and artichoke finials, symbols of a productive garden. The Hogarths had fruit trees, including the mulberry which is probably older than the House, and a “nut walk” where Hogarth played nine pins or skittles, but we do not know if they grew artichokes, which had been introduced to England in Henry VIII’s reign.
The urns were moved to Gunnersbury Park Museum in 1997; one had lost a finial and both were battered and slightly lop-sided, very much in need of conservation work.
Rosalind Elliott led the fund-raising for the Trust, obtaining generous donations from a number of private individuals, some from the theatre world, as well from the Garrick Club. Grants also came from the Leche Trust and the Old Chiswick Protection Society.
The urns have been conserved and careful replicas have been made from Jesmonite, a high quality modern resin, so that the originals are not put at risk out of doors. The Trust commissioned the work from Plowden & Smith who carried it out beautifully.
The replicas were unveiled on 17 June 2013 and formally donated to the Hogarth’s House Trust (registered charity no 1010069) of which Hounslow Council is the trustee, in the presence of a number of the donors who supported the project. The William Hogarth Trust hopes in the near future to be able to create more replica urns to raise funds to support its work.