Topography is central to William Hogarth’s canonical progress series in which London settings play a decisive narrative role. Lesser-known works by the artist, however, also engage with topographical representation. Pierre Von-Ow’s online exhibition, “William Hogarth’s Topographies,” considers the artist’s illustrations of national and colonized geographies beyond the metropole. The county of Kent is the site of a tour undertaken in May 1732 by Hogarth and a group of friends who collectively memorialized the adventure as “The Five-Day Peregrination.” The exhibition presents the peregrination as both a jesting imitation of the Grand Tour of the landscapes and monuments of Europe and as a satire of the British antiquarians who, since at least the sixteenth century, had minutely inventoried the country’s history and antiquities as a means of reclaiming a glorious past.
Jacqueline Riding and Caroline Patey will discuss the textual and visual representations recorded by Hogarth and his fellow travelers of their tour of Kent, first in manuscript (now in the British Museum) and later published as “An Account of What Seemed Most Remarkable in the Five Days Peregrination (1782, etc.).” The event seeks to explore the connections between this little-known project and the broader literature of actual and invented travels, as well as the history of Kent and its ties to the global expansion of the British Empire. Dr. Riding has structured her recent biography “Hogarth: Life in Progress” (2021) with eight interludes that address different aspects of The Peregrination. Dr. Patey is currently working on a translation of “The Peregrination” into Italian. Riding and Patey will share their thoughts about why the tour of Hogarth and his friends continues to demand attention, bringing to this program insights from their recent and current work.