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Biography of William Hogarth

Portrait of William Hogarth

William Hogarth was an eighteenth century artist known for his moral tales.

When and Where was he Born?

10th November 1697, Bartholomew Close, Smithfields, London, England.

Family Background:

William Hogarth was the only son of Richard Hogarth, a minor classical scholar, and schoolmaster and Anne (nee) Gibbons. Had two sisters.


Apprenticed to a Silversmith Ellis Gamble.

Timeline of William Hogarth:

1703: Hogarth’s father opens a Latin speaking coffee house in St Johns Gate, Clerkenwell.

1707: The Coffee house fails and his father is sent to the Fleet Debtors Prison. The rest of the family are forced to live in debtors lodgings nearby.

1712: His father is released from prison and the family move to Long Lane in Smithfield.

1713: He becomes apprenticed to a master silver plate engraver Ellis Gamble in Leicester Fields.

1718: Death of his father.

1720: He starts his own business engraving book plates, coats of arms, shop bills and begins to paint people’s portraits. Meets James Thornhill and attends his painting classes at his free art academy in Covent Garden.

1721: He publishes a satirical print about the South Sea Bubble investments crash which had happened the year before.

1722: Hogarth works on plates to illustrate La Motraye’s “Travels” and Gildon’s “New Metamorphosis”.

1724: He produces “The Bad Taste of the Town.” His shop now moves to the corner of Cranbourne Alley and Little Newport Street, London. He joins James Thornhill’s free academy in Covent Garden.

1725: His sisters Mary and Anne open a milliner’s shop in Long Walk near St Bartholomew’s Hospital. He produces a satire on William Kent’s “Altarpiece”.

1726: Hogarth works on the illustrations for “Hudibras” a novel by Samuel Barber which he felt to be amongst his finest work.

1727: A tapestry maker, Joshua Morris, heard that Hogarth was a printer and commissioned a design for his work called the “Element of Earth”. When he heard that he was an engraver and not a painter by trade he refused to pay.

1728: Hogarth successfully sued Morris in Westminster Court in May. He begins painting “The Beggar’s Opera”.

1729: He elopes with Jane Thornhill, the daughter of the artist Sir James Thornhill. They set up home in the Little Piazza in Covent Garden after they are married. He is present at the House of Commons investigation into the Fleet Prison and later paints a version of the committee.

1730: Hogarth begins painting “A Harlot’s Progress”. His sisters move their shop to Little Britain.

1731: The Hogarth’s move to Thornhill House, Great Piazza, Covent Garden.

1733: He is commissioned to paint a conversation amongst the Royal Family but is beaten by William Kent and the Duke of Grafton to paint the marriage of Anne, Princess Royal.

1734: He completes the painted version of “The Rake’s Progress” which depicts the life of Tom Rakewell, the son of a rich merchant. He is elected Governor of St Bartholomew’s Hospital. His Father in Law dies.

1735:  He helps pass a law which says that artist’s work cannot be used without the payment of royalties. Starts the St Martin’s Lane Academy which is for artists and a school for young artists. He is a founding member of the Sublime Society of Beefsteaks. Death of his mother.

1736: He completes “The Pool of Bethesda” mural for St Batholomews hospital.

1737: Hogarth opens a subscription for two new works “Strolling Actresses” and “Four Times of Day” which is the most lucrative way of selling his prints. He completes “The Good Samaritan” mural for St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

1739: He becomes a founding Governor of Thomas Coram’s Foundling Hospital.

1740: He begins one of his most famous portraits “The Shrimp Girl”. Paints a portrait of Captain Coram for then new hospital.

1741: Hogarth is present at the opening of the Foundling Hospital.

The Graham Children. 1742. National Gallery, London
The Graham Children. 1742. National Gallery, London

1742: His sister Anne moves in with Hogarth and his wife at Leicester Fields.

1743: Completes his series of six paintings called “Marriage a la Mode” depicting upper class life where marriages were made for money. This is generally regarded as his best work by critics and is on show in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.

1744: He paints a portrait of Thomas Sherring, later to become Archbishop of Canterbury.

1746: Hogarth is paid £200 for his portrait of the famous actor David Garrick which was a colossal sum at the time. Paints “Moses Brought to Pharaoh’s Daughter” for the Foundling Hospital.

1747: He receives a commission from Lincoln’s Inn Fields for “Paul before Felix”.

1748: Visits Calais where he is almost arrested as a spy after sketching the bridge and has to prove his talent as an artist by sketching caricatures for the Governor.

1749: The Hogarth’s buy a small country house in Chiswick.

1751: He paints his famous works of “Beer Street” where the inhabitants are all happy and prosperous and “Gin Lane” about drunkenness amongst the lower classes. The prints were sold in aid of the Gin Act shortly to go through parliament. It is possible that his friend the novelist Henry Fielding recruited him for this purpose. His “Marriage a la Mode” series are auctioned.

1752: Passing of an Act of Parliament allowing the dissection of executed murderers for scientific purposes. This is reflected in his work “The last painting of his “Four Stages of Cruelty” series.

1754: He begins painting the “Election” series.

1755: The original paintings for the Harlot’s Progress series of prints were destroyed in a fire at Fonthill Abbey in Wiltshire. He is elected a member of the Society of Arts.

1756: Hogarth completes an altarpiece for St Mary Redcliffe in Bristol.

1757: Hogarth is appointed by King George the Second as his “Sergeant Painter”. He resigns from the Society of Arts.

1758: He begins painting “Piquet: or Virtue in Danger” for Lord Charlemont.

1760: He is taken ill which lasts for nearly a year.

1761: He exhibits seven paintings in the Society of Artists exhibition at Spring Gardens and is elected on to their committee.

1762: He suffers another term of illness.

1763: Hogarth sketches Wilkes on trial for seditious libel at Westminster Hall. He suffers a paralytic seizure.

1764: Hogarth publishes his final work “Tail Piece or The Bathos”.

William Hogarth statue
Statue of William Hogarth in Leicester Square Gardens, London (copyright Anthony Blagg)

When and Where did he Die?

25th/26th October 1764, Leicester Fields, London, England probably of an aneurysm in the “chest.

Age at Death:


Artistic Works:

1724: “The Lottery”, “The Mystery of Masonry brought to Light by the Gormogons”, “A Just View of the British Stage”.
1727: “Large Masquerade Ticket”.
1728-32: “The Fountaine Family”, “The Assembly at Wanstead House” , “The House of Commons examining Bambridge”, Several portraits of actors in John Gay’s “the Beggars Opera.”.
1732: “The Indian Emperor, or The Conquest of Mexico.”
1733: “A Midnight Modern Conversation” “Southwark Fair”
1735: “A Rake’s Progress”
1736: “The Sleeping Congregation”, “Before and After”, “Scholars at a Lecture”, “The Company of Undertakers (Consultation of Quacks)”, “The Distrest Poet”, “The Pool of Bethesda and The Good Samaritan.”
1738: “The Four Times of the Day” “Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn.”
1740: “Portrait of Captain Thomas Coram” (Founder of the Foundling Hospital).
1741: “The Enraged Musician.”
1745: “Self Portrait.”
1746: “Portrait of the Actor David Garrick as Richard III”, “Sketch of Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat.”
1747: “Industry and Idleness”, “The Stage Coach or The Country Inn Yard.”
1748: “Paul before Felix”, “The Gate of Calais.”
1750: “March of the Guards to Finchley.”
1751: “The Four Stages of Cruelty.”
1753: “False Perspective” (Satire)
1755: “The Election” series.
1756: Alterpiece for St. Mary Redcliffe Church, Bristol.
1759: “The Cockpit.”
1764: “Tailpiece, or The Bathos.”

Written Works:

1724: “Masquerades and Operas.”
1747: “Industry and Idleness”
1753: “The Analysis of Beauty.”
1762: Publishes an anti war satire in the Times newspaper.


On 23 March 1729 Hogarth married Jane Thornhill, daughter of artist Sir James Thornhill.

Site of Grave:

St. Nicholas’s Churchyard, Chiswick Mall, Chiswick, London, England.

Places of Interest:


St. Mary Redcliffe Church.


Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.


Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro.


Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester.


Walker Art Gallery.


Hogarth’s House, Hogarth Lane, Chiswick.
The National Gallery.
National Portrait Gallery.
Thomas Coram Foundation. (The Foundling Hospital)
Tate Britain.
Sir John Soane’s Museum.


Upton House.


Aberdeen Art Gallery.