The Graham Children William Hogarth Buy Art Prints Now
from Amazon

* As an Amazon Associate, and partner with Google Adsense and Ezoic, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
Email: [email protected] / Phone: +44 7429 011000

William Hogarth made a painting of the Graham children in 1742, featuring four kids. They appear exquisitely dressed and pose in a semicircular yet lively group. The art currently lies at the National Gallery, London, UK.

A baby sits on a gold leaf gold cart from the beautiful painting, and the girl standing near the baby has a blue dress and appears to hold two cherries. A younger girl stands in a flower print dress, and the boy seems to play the bird organ, a device that imitates a bird's songs. He appears so diverted, looking up at the bird in the cage pleasingly. There is also a silver basket of fruits beside the baby lying on the floor. The children seem like they lived in exceptional conditions and are from a wealthy family based on their beautiful clothes, accessories, and furniture around. Additionally, each child seems happy, cheerful, and full of life, painting childhood as great times of happiness and innocence. The baby boy is in a skirt, which was typical for any baby for the first two years until they get potty trained.

The ladies appear in long and pretty adult clothing, and behind them, the room seems dark and hard to make out. There is also a clock on the mantelpiece with a small figure with wings, probably a cherub holding a scythe, as a death symbol emphasizing on the volatility of children’s lives. The painting mood appears diminishing and full of uncertainties with great symbolism of details. The caged bird flutters its wings in preparation to fly, and a bead-eyed cat rumpus its body behind the chair, gazing at the caged bird. The artist emphasized that there are still various predators even during animated scenes, and the infant died before the completion of the painting. The flying dove may represent his soul flying to heaven as the carnations at his feet show how quickly his life faded away, just like a flower withers and loses their beauty.

He used oil and canvas to represent the painting in the baroque style. He excellently combined symbolism with carefully balanced, vibrant shade colors to bring out intricate details of the art. William Hogarth is a gifted and self-taught painter, and due to his childlessness, he liked to paint a representation for childhood. The artist also gained his inspiration from Thornhill, a well-acclaimed painter, and he worked towards taking over this position. Also, he enjoyed portraying a disparity between different social classes.