Leicester Museum makes significant acquisition of Hogarth painting

An important painting by 18th century English artist William Hogarth has been saved for the nation following a crowdfunding campaign and support from Art Fund.

The painting William Wollaston and his Family in a Grand Interior has been acquired by the New Walk Museum and Art Gallery in Leicester where it has been displayed on a loan basis for 75 years. The work was acquired via the Acceptance in Lieu scheme following the “Save the Hogarth Campaign” which raised over £500,000.

William Hogarth was born in London at the end of the 17th century,and is best known for his moral series including A Rake’s Progress and Marriage A-la-Mode, and his prints such as Beer Street and Gin Lane. He was also recognised for his ‘conversation pieces’ – informal group portraits that depict a large amount of people who were often families.

William Wollaston and his Family in a Grand Interior is a conversation piece which depicts the family of William Wollaston, who was MP for Ipswich from 1733-41. Hogarth was commissioned to paint the piece following a period of mourning for the family after the death of William’s elder brother Charlton Wollaston, the former head of the family. This is reflected in the black clothing of some of the sitters, as well as the cloths hung over the wall decoration and Charlton’s bust on the mantelpiece. The painting has been passed down through the Leicester Wollaston family, who have lived in the county of Leicestershire since 1652.

The work will remain on display to the public until 6 September 2019, before being removed for conservation cleaning in preparation for a series of public events and and an exhibition dedicated to the work and Hogarth in early 2020.

Stephen Deuchar, Director of Art Fund, said: “This is such a great acquisition for Leicester - a real coup to have acquired a work of such landmark significance to both Hogarth’s career and the wider history of 18th century British art. We are delighted to have helped.”

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