With the support of national institutions, major grants and an extraordinary effort from museum supporters in Derby and beyond, many famous paintings will come to the city for the first time.
A world-class exhibition showcasing 18th Century artist William Hogarth opens at Derby Museum and Art Gallery this March, thanks to partnerships with two national galleries, several major grants and a public appeal, which raised an impressive £20,000 from museum supporters in Derby and beyond last autumn. The exhibition will be on display from Friday 10 March until Sunday 4 June.
William Hogarth (1697 – 1764) is one of the most significant individuals in the history of British art; a celebrated painter, graphic satirist, art theorist and social commentator who was influenced by European and British art, as well as English literature and theatre. His works range from life size portraits to stories told through multiple connected scenes, which he called ‘modern moral subjects’. Hogarth has inspired contemporary artists from Grayson Perry to Lubaina Himid, satirists and cartoonists from Cold War Steve to Martin Rowson, and ground-breaking film directors such as Sergei Eisenstein and Stanley Kubrick.
This free exhibition, titled Hogarth’s Britons: Succession, Patriotism, and the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, brings together over 40 works from the world-renowned artist, plus additional paintings by Hogarth’s contemporaries and other objects from the time that tell the story of the Jacobite struggle to restore the exiled Stuart dynasty to the throne of Great Britain. It explores Hogarth’s response to the last and most serious of all attempts: the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, which was a pivotal moment in Derby’s history as well as nationally.
Lucy Bamford, Senior Curator of Fine Art at Derby Museums explains: “Hogarth’s work explores a time of great turmoil in Britain, including the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. Derby played a pivotal role in these events, being the furthest point south reached by the Jacobite army during its campaign to take the British throne, led by Prince Charles Edward Stuart (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’), whose statue still stands on Derby’s Cathedral Green today. It was also in Derby that the famous Council of War convened in December 1745, and here that the decision to turn back to Scotland was made, ultimately leading to the Jacobites’ devastating defeat at the Battle of Culloden in April 1746.”
“No other artist defines our image of 18th Century Britain quite like Hogarth. The works in this exhibition explore themes around national identity and what it means to be British, offering us a rich political and social commentary that still resonates today.”
Dr Jacqueline Riding originated the exhibition through her partnership with London’s Foundling Museum, with major grant support from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. Dr Riding has worked closely with Lucy Bamford, Senior Curator of Fine Art at Derby Museums, to develop the exhibition’s scope which embraces the pivotal role Derby played during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.
Dr Riding said: “I am delighted that Hogarth’s Britons is being staged in Derby and that it will be the first exhibition held in the city to showcase this extraordinary artist’s work. For Hogarth, defining and reflecting Britishness and contemporary national life was synonymous with his vision for an authentic, homegrown art which was both educational and entertaining. He aimed not only to raise the status of the visual arts and artists in Britain, but to make his country a better place, so that all honest, hardworking citizens could find success and happiness, and where basic humanity would be expressed through the care of those who are vulnerable and in need. For Britain in 2023, Hogarth and his art has never been more relevant.”
The exhibition has been produced in partnership with London’s National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery as part of its National Skills Sharing Partnership Programme. This programme sees the National Portrait Gallery partner with colleagues across the UK to share its Collection while it undergoes its transformative Inspiring People project, funded by The National Heritage Lottery Fund and Art Fund. It is supported by the Weston Loan Programme with Art Fund, the first ever UK-wide funding scheme which the Garfield Weston Foundation created to enable smaller and local authority museums to borrow works of art and artefacts from national collections. Significant funding has also been received from The Headley Trust, the Duke of Devonshire’s Charitable Trust and Marketing Derby, as well as from museum Friends, volunteers and supporters from Derby and beyond who, together, raised £20,000 last autumn in a public appeal to bring the world-class exhibition to the city.
One of Hogarth’s masterpieces ‘The March of the Guards to Finchley’, 1749-1750, oil on canvas © The Foundling Museum, London (left) and Allan Ramsay’s, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 1720 – 1788, © National Galleries of Scotland, returning to Derby after almost 300 years (right).
Hogarth’s Britons has been generously supported by 18 individual lenders including His Majesty King Charles III (Royal Collection Trust), UK national museums, galleries and libraries, independent museums and private collections.
Visitors will be able to see many of Hogarth’s masterpieces including The March of the Guards to Finchley (Foundling Museum, London) and Marriage A-La-Mode (The National Gallery, London) alongside other major Hogarth paintings including The Shrimp Girl (The National Gallery, London) and The Beggar’s Opera (Birmingham Museums). Loans from the Royal Collection Trust include Hogarth’s intimate portrait of King George II and his family which, alongside magnificent Stuart portraits from the National Portrait Gallery, will introduce visitors to the main characters in this fascinating story of rival royal dynasties. Twenty-five of Hogarth’s iconic engravings – including the portrait of infamous clan chief Simon Fraser, as well as Lord Lovat to O the Roast Beef of Old England (Calais Gate) and The Humours of an Election – will also be on display, generously loaned by Chetham’s Library, Manchester and Andrew Edmunds, London. Other gems to be found in the exhibition include Scottish artist Allan Ramsay’s recently re-discovered portrait of ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ (Prince Charles Edward Stuart), on loan from National Galleries of Scotland and returning to Derby for the first time in nearly 300 years.
The exhibition offers an additional layer of interest with smaller items of decorative art and beautiful, intricate pieces of jewellery from both private and national collections including the V&A and the British Museum. Through these objects, the exhibition explores how ordinary people expressed their loyalties during the 1700s, either to King George II or (often secretly) to the Stuart cause. Derby Museums also holds an important collection of objects relating to the Jacobite Rebellion, including an extraordinary diamond ring thought to have been given to a Mrs Ward of Derby by Charles Edward Stuart himself for providing the services of her son as the prince’s food taster. This is just one of many items from the museums’ own collections on display this spring.
Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums said: “We’re thrilled to bring this exhibition to Derby and to be working alongside national museums such as The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. It exemplifies the ambition of Derby Museums to be presenting an exhibition of this calibre to audiences outside of London. It seems fitting, as for that week in December 1745, the fate of the entire kingdom was dependent of a decision made in this Midlands city. The emerging British identity, which Hogarth documents, is shaped as much by life on the River Derwent as by the Thames. Our thanks also to Dr Jacqueline Riding, Hogarth expert and co-curator, who developed this exhibition and whose work with our own staff has now made it a reality.”
“Despite a really tough funding environment, we have been well supported by trusts and foundations as well as by individual donors from Derby and other parts of the UK. They have all recognised the importance of sharing nationally important collections with regional museums. We expect to draw in audiences far and wide to see this intriguing exhibition and hope they also experience our other museums, including the critically acclaimed, award-winning Museum of Making. An ambitious programme is crucial to the survival of our regional museums and galleries.”
Sophia Weston, Trustee of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: “It is wonderful to see so many important works by such a definitive British artist gathered together in Derby for this ambitious exhibition. We are delighted to be able to support this project through our Weston Loan Programme, which is dedicated to supporting regional organisations to secure important loans just like these.”
An important legacy of the exhibition for Derby Museums is the knowledge and skills exchange that will be gained through collaboration with the National Gallery, and with the National Portrait Gallery’s National Skills Sharing Partnership Programme. Through these partnerships, the museum will benefit from expert curatorial and art handling support, networking with other museums to develop work around collaborative display, mentoring, seminars and internships, and enabling Derby Museums to re-assess and re-invigorate its own collections in new and exciting ways.
Hogarth’s Britons: Succession, Patriotism, and the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion can be seen at Derby Museum and Art Gallery from Friday 10 March until Sunday 4 June 2023. Admission to the exhibition is free with an ask to ‘Give What You Think’.
An accompanying catalogue, exploring the major themes and illustrating the contents of the exhibition, has been written by Dr Jacqueline Riding, with contributions by Lucy Bamford. Supported by grants from the Paul Mellon Centreand produced by Paul Holberton Publishing, it will be available to purchase from Derby Museums’ shop, priced £15.
More information can be found on Derby Museums’ website: derbymuseums.org.
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