Denial of ceremony
He became a member of Jerusalem Lodge, now No. 197. In later years Grand Secretary Thomas French and other Grand Officers were to deny that his initiation ceremony took place whilst he was incarcerated at the Old Bailey.
Earlier in his career, in 1736, Hogarth found himself at loggerheads with one Sir Thomas de Veil (1684-1746), a justice of the peace and a member of the Lodge meeting at the Vine Tavern, Holborn which Hogarth also frequented.
The antagonism between the two Brethren was to lead to the best known of all of Hogarth's Masonic prints, namely Night, one of a set of four prints collectively entitled Times of Day, of which Night was the fourth.
The set are to be seen in context, as they tell a story of a day's happenings in the streets of London. The last print reflects the not
uncommon late night celebrations in the back streets of the city. Freemasonry, identified still as a dining and drinking club, falls into this bracket of revelry.
Thomas De Veil, wearing his Master's collar and jewel, is blatantly drunk, being helped home by the Grand Tyler at the time, Andrew Montgomery, 'Garder of ye Grand Lodge', a well-known and popular figure amongst Masons.
The print, typically, is filled with detail and innuendo. Celebrations are on because it is the anniversary of the restoration of Charles II on 29 May 1660.
The barber is performing his art as a surgeon. In the background is the sign of the Rummer and Grape Tavern in what is now Northumberland Avenue. There is considerable significance to the content of the chamber pot being poured over De Veil's head.
It is a commentary and gibe at De Veil, who was involved in the legislation banning the popular trade in gin. On one well-publicised occasion, the unfortunate De Veil, whilst testing the liquid content of a bottle in a tavern, inadvertently found himself gulping down a mouthful of urine!
Hogarth reached the peak of his Masonic career on his appointment as Grand Steward in 1735. His name will forever be associated with the Grand Steward's jewel, now known as the 'Hogarth type', which he designed in the same year on the occasion of the formation of the Stewards' Lodge (which was to be named Grand Stewards' Lodge and be placed at the head of the roll, without a number, in 1792).
It is 60mm in diameter and incorporates the level, plumb rule and square encircled by 24 flames which touch the outer border, decorated with brilliant stones.
The jewel was in use until 1835, when it was superseded by a new centenary jewel, and is now an exceedingly rare collector's piece. There is an excellent example of the jewel in the Worcester Masonic Museum.
Hogarth was to continue to depict Freemasons on several occasions. In doing so, as was the case with many of his other portrayals, he often antagonised his contemporaries and is seen as a controversial painter at best and cantankerous and spiteful at worst.
Hogarth died in his home in Chiswick in 1765 and left behind an accurate pictorial account of England in the first half of the 18th century.
Hogarth, Bindman David, Thames & Hudson (1999).
The Grand Stewards and Their Lodge, Dyer Colin, Grand Stewards' Lodge (1985).
Hogarth's Bicentenary, Knight G Norman, The Masonic Record (December 1964).
Hogarth: His Life, Art, and Times, Paulson Ronald, Lutterworth Press (1993).
Hogarth, Uglow Jenny, London (1997).
William Hogarth and his fraternity, Ward Eric, AQC 77 (1964).
My appreciation is extended to my long-standing friend Finbar McDonel for his invaluable guidance in all matters relating to Hogarth prints.
Web site created by Mark Griffin