Growing up in Chiswick, the signficance of the 18th century artist William Hogarth is hard to ignore. Even if a local knows next to nothing about him, Hogarth is like an unavoidable ghost because of how permanently his legacy has been preserved in Chiswick. A school is named after him, so is a major roundabout, and nearby Turnham Green his statue stands proudly looking over Chiswick High Road. The explorers among us may even venture into St Nicholas' Church Yard where he is buried. But exalted above these locations is Hogarth's House in Chiswick - Hogarth's country retreat from 1749 to 1764. Naturally, I paid a visit to the House, which has been open as a museum since 1904, displaying a number of Hogarth's prints.

Something that instantly struck me upon entering the living room on the bottom floor was that this was not merely the home of William Hogarth, it had been home for a number of other prominent residents. Before Hogarth, Lutheran Pastor George Andreas Ruperti used the house as his second home. Ruperti is known in particular for his care of refugees who - fleeing the 1708-9 winter famine on the Rhine - arrived in London. After the ownership of Hogarth and his family Henry Francis Cary, the famed poet, translator and curate of St Nicholas' Church (where Hogarth was buried) owned the house in the 19th century. Newton Treen "Brayvo" Hicks was a Victorian actor and theatre manager who rented the house from 1867 until his death in 1873. From religious leader to poet to actor to (most famously) artist, this country house was a popular home for a diverse range of culturally significant figures. But, undoubtedly, Hogarth rises above any other inhabitant.

This is 'his' house. It's museum is solely dedicated to him. In all three room of the museum, his prints were on display.

Hogarth (1697-1764) was a 19th century artist who was known both for his engraving skills and his painting skills. His art manages to capture the changing society in which he lived. A lot of his art has a satirical focus, in which he focuses on the developing morals of society. His work had popular appeal, and so they were widely copied via prints. Many of these prints can be seen in Hogarth's House - in particular copies of his series 'A Harlot's Progress', 'A Rake's Progress' and 'Marriage A-la-Mode'.

The 'Marriage A-la-Mode series of paintings was completed between 1743 and 1745. The series attacks the idea that the nobility live perfect, unproblematic lives, instead it satirises the arranged marriages which were so common in that period among the nobility. The series starts with the first painting 'The Marriage Settlement' showing a daughter of the nobility in despair as her marriage is decided with the son of the Earl Squanderfield (whose neck possibly indicates syphilis - foreshadowing the sexual unfaithfulness that will plague their forced marriage). This is a marriage whose sole goal was to secure the high status of both indiviudals and their families. This painting is the beginning of the series which depicts a marriage ruined by evidence of sexual immorality; disorganisation in the household; prostitution with a young girl; the murder of the husband by the wife's extra-marital lover; and the suicide of the widowed and penniless wife. Although it did not receive an overly positive response from the public (unlike his other series), this series is perfect example of Hogarth's finest storytelling abilities, and shows Hogarth not merely offering us  artwork, but offering us his opinion on forced marriages in the upper classes of society. Hogarth was an artist, but also a public commentator, who communicated his views through his satire.

Hogarth's interest in the state of society in his art work understably translated into his life. For example, he was a passionate opponent of injustice, and he adored children and animals. Such was his care for young people that he supported the Foundling Hospital and he sought to protect artists' work with his support for the Copyright Act of 1735. He involved himself in London's social life - drinking and eating with friends, and being a member of the Sublime Society of Beefsteaks and a Freemason.

What shocked me was that Hogarth came to such fame and wealth from humble beginnings. His father Richard Hogarth was a poor Latin school teacher and textbook writer. This gave him a unique insight into society - because he was not trapped into a close-minded aristocratic mindset. He understood society through the lens of someone who had viewed it both as a poor young man and as a richer artist when he was older.

It is not foolish to call Hogarth the greatest artist of his time.

In the words of his tombstone - written by his friend, the actor David Garrick - Hogarth was a "great Painter of Mankind Who reach'd the noblest point of Art Whose pictur'd Morals charm the Mind And through the Eye correct the Heart".

Having grown up with the legacy of William Hogarth being a feature of my local area, I lacked central knowledge about who he was and what his significance was. It was therefore refreshing to visit his former home and learn of Hogarth, his art and its tendancy to interact with the changing society of 18th century England.