Two of London’s greatest satirists under one roof – Sir Grayson Perry and William Hogarth


London’s great satirical artist William Hogarth has inspired an epic exhibition by Sir Grayson Perry, arriving at Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery in Ealing from July 10 to December 8, 2024.

“The Vanity of Small Differences” is a modern-day counterpart to William Hogarth’s “A Rake’s Progress”, one of Hogarth’s most celebrated 18th century series, chronicling the rise and fall of Tom Rakewell, whose pursuit of pleasure led to his downfall.

Grayson Perry’s six huge tapestries apply this satirical tradition to the 21st century, narrating the life of Tim Rakewell and how he navigates modern British society. This contemporary series examines social mobility and how class influences aesthetic taste and personal identity.

Hogarth’s original paintings were bought by Sir John Soane’s wife 222 years ago to be displayed at Pitzhanger Manor, his show home in Ealing. The Soanes subsequently moved with their art collections to Lincoln’s Inn Fields. However, Pitzhanger continues to display a full series of framed 18th century engravings of A Rake’s Progress in their original setting of the vibrant red walls of the Soane’s drawing room.

Visitors to the exhibition and Manor will be able to compare and contrast both intricately detailed morality tales in the home of Hogarth’s series, providing a unique historical context.

Both artists portray people from all walks of life – Perry’s wittily insightful, vibrant work portrays modern day social tribes in clothes and settings that we can all recognise. And The Rake’s Progress shows many London haunts in Tom Rakewell’s ill fated journey – from drinking at the Rose Tavern on Drury Lane, being arrested on St. James’s Street, Westminster, marrying for money at Marylebone Old Church, back to gambling at Whites on St. James’s Street, which leads him to Fleet prison and finally Bethlehem Hospital, (Bedlam) in Moorgate.

From July to December the detailed storytelling and humour of both artists can be enjoyed in a beautiful setting that bridges the past and present.