• 08 Jul 2019

The Paul Mellon Centre and Sir John Soane's Museum are seeking proposals for a workshop on Hogarth's Moral Geography, taking place on 5 November 2019.

This autumn, Sir John Soane’s Museum is putting on an exhibition, Hogarth: Place and Progress, which opens on 9 October 2019. All the surviving paintings that Hogarth called his "Modern Moral Subjects" will be present, as will all of his engraved series, and they will be supported in the catalogue by a discussion of the real places in London that these works represent, mediate and comment upon.

This workshop will explore the moral geography of Hogarth’s images and the environments they represent. What are the virtues and vices that were associated with the places that Hogarth depicted, and with the people who inhabited or passed through these spaces? What value-systems are implied or inculcated by Hogarth’s own images, which enjoy their own complex pictorial geography – are they morally didactic or subversive, or both?  His famous "Modern Moral Subjects" are entirely fictional, but their principal characters’ progress towards death or high office is also a physical progress through particular places and buildings in London. How do we best make sense of these moral and physical forms of passage?

The idea of such a moral geography is, of course, by no means unique to Hogarth; it is also relevant to comparable literary works such as John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Alexander Pope’s Dunciad, and Ned Ward’s The London Spy. Similarly, the depictions of London found in the paintings and engravings of other artists of the period are clogged with moral associations, value judgements and satiric commentary. This workshop, as well as looking at the moral geography of Hogarth’s London, is interested in the relationship between his work and such literary and pictorial alternatives, as well as its legacies for contemporary culture.

Proposals for 15-minute presentations at the workshop are invited, for more information please click here.