'The Graham Children', 1742
by William Hogarth
London, The National Gallery
This painting is a life-size portrait of the children of Dr and Mrs Daniel Graham who lived at 11 Pall Mall, London. Henrietta Catherine, aged nine, wears a blue dress. Richard Robert, playing the sérinette or bird organ, is seven. Anna Maria, five, is in a flower-printed dress and the baby, Thomas, who was born 18 August 1740, sits in a go-cart.
The objects in the painting suggest the kind of lifestyle the Graham children had. The baby's go-cart is gilded in gold leaf, a silver basket of fruit is placed next to it, and there is a bullfinch in the birdcage above Robert's head. The baby, Thomas, died before the painting was finished. In the early 18th century child mortality was high. To symbolise the death of the baby, Hogarth has painted a winged cherub, with a scythe and an hourglass, mounted on a clock in the background. Two carnations lie beside the child, stalks crossed.
Click here to view work from the 2001 exhibition, inspired by this painting.
© The National Gallery, London