The first-ever painting given to the Hospital was leading British artist William Hogarth’s portrait of Thomas Coram. Hogarth’s gift, just one of the ways in which he supported the new Foundling Hospital, embodies the idea of creative action which underpins everything we do.

This act inspired his fellow artists to join him, and donate art of all kinds to the Hospital, including many more portraits, other paintings, but also furniture, clocks, and decorative plasterwork.

Almost half of our paintings are portraits of named people, mainly supporters and Governors of the Hospital. There are works by some outstanding artists, such as Joshua Reynolds, Allan Ramsay, Thomas Hudson and John Everett Millais.

We continue to add contemporary portraits to the collection today, including our recent portraits of former pupils by leading contemporary photographers.