Some of the most moving objects in the Foundling Collections are the identifying tokens left by mothers with their babies in the Hospital’s earliest years. These tiny objects range from everyday useful items like thimbles, to small pieces of jewellery, and carefully customised coins and textiles. Many of our objects are belongings, once owned or used by artists, Governors, children or staff of the Hospital.
Our works of art include many portraits, from those of Governors created and donated by eighteenth-century artists such as William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds on loan from Coram, to our recently commissioned portraits of former pupils of the Hospital by leading contemporary photographers. Prominent eighteenth-century British artist William Hogarth was a strong supporter of the Foundling Hospital, and we hold major works of narrative art created and donated by him, and by other artists and supporters, ‘Hogarth & Company’. These include Hogarth’s painting March of the Guards to Finchley, and the wonderful sequence of paintings that form part of the decorative interior of the Hospital’s Court Room. Alongside these are pieces by today’s artists, creating contemporary conversations with previous generations of artists, inspired by their creative action for children.