William Hogarth was one of England’s greatest eighteenth century painters and I principally remembered for his political and social satires and yet he didn’t start painting until he was thirty.
Born in 1697 his early career saw him apprenticed to a silverplate engraver and while still in his early twenties he set up a business designing and publishing topical prints. He also worked on book illustration and studied briefly in James Thornhill’s Academy in the late 1720s. In 1729 he eloped with Thornhill’s daughter. Their clandestine marriage did not however prevent Hogarth and his father-in-law becoming firm friends in later years. Indeed Hogarth had many friends, but he also made himself quite unpopular with fellow artists, particularly on account of his fierce patriotism and his belief that English artists could be and indeed were as good as any European artists.
His efforts did much to re-establish the position of English artists. He also helped establish an art school off St Martin’s Lane in London and was instrumental in paving the way for the founding of the Royal Academy.