Monday, January 3, 2011
Hogarth's The Graham Children
Perhaps William Hogarth's finest portrait would be his 1742 painting, The Graham Children. The Graham whose children was portrayed was Daniel Graham, the king's personal pharmacist. As you can probably tell by the children's fine clothing and the fine background, the king's apothecary made a good wage. Something that also stands out is how beautifully rendered and happy the children are. Hogarth had a great fondness for children (he was a founder of the Foundling Hospital) and his affections for them shine through in his painting.
Cheshire Cat. The direction of the boy and cat's eyes reflects the opposite plane of the composition in which the baby reaches upward for the cherries in his sister's hand. The cherries which have somewhat of a scandalous symbolism today were a childhood symbol in Hogarth's time, the "fruit of paradise."
If you have been trying to figure out which of the child sitters had sadly passed at the time of the portrait it would be Baby Thomas which explained why the cherries were just out of his reach. Hogarth created a fitting sentimental portrait of the Graham children which many would admired. Gone were the stiff child portraits, Hogarth brought a new standard for the sentimental family portrait.