Hogarth was born near Smithfield Market in London. His childhood was blighted by his father's imprisonment for debt.
Apprenticed to a silver engraver, this gave him skills which he later adapted to produce prints and to teach himself to paint. Hogarth was a shrewd businessman as well as an artist. He sold his prints at relatively modest prices, thus reaching a much wider audience than those who could afford his paintings.
He became prosperous enough to take on this house in Chiswick and extend it, adding the projecting Venetian-style oriel window on the first floor (an identical window appears in one of Hogarth's prints, The Times).
Hogarth's fame rests in particular on his series of pictures telling stories with contemporary real-life settings, his 'modern moral subjects' such as A Harlot's Progress, A Rake's Progress and Marriage-a-la-Mode. These began as paintings full of detail, theatrical in style and showing the follies and foibles of humanity which he displayed to an enthusiastic audience, taking orders in advance for his engravings of the same images.
These were so successful that pirated copies were produced by other engravers and Hogarth campaigned successfully for the first copyright legislation in 1735 to protect the work of artists.
His pictures are among the best-known visual representations of everyday life in Georgian London and Hogarth has been hailed as the "defining spirit of London's art".