The current BP Spotlight display was planned to mark the 250th anniversary of Hogarth’s death. Whilst key works by Hogarth constantly feature in the BP Walk through British Art at Tate Britain, space is limited. The large room of the spotlight display allows us to bring out nearly all of our paintings and to dig deep into Tate’s collection in its broadest form, from prints and drawings to Special Collection items in the Tate Library and Archive (such as the Engravers’ Copyright Act (1735), Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty (1753) and Churchill’s Epistle to William Hogarth (1763)).
It also allows us to reflect on Hogarth’s place in the history of the Tate as the National Gallery of British Art, through the way his works have been acquired and displayed in major exhibitions. This is not the careful isolation of the ‘awkward figure’ that Norman Reid wrote of over forty years ago, but a celebration of the life and work of one of Britain’s greatest artists.