In the eighteenth century, Vauxhall Gardens was a refuge for Londoners from the filth and noise of the city, offering an all embracing sensual experience that entertained up to 100,000 people a year.
Under the management of Jonathan Tyers, the Gardens enabled ordinary Londoners to experience contemporary art and design, high quality music and al fresco dining. Tyers’ two most important allies in the 1730s were his friend and neighbour, the artist William Hogarth, and the composer George Frideric Handel. Between them, Tyers, Hogarth and Handel created the phenomenon that came to be known as the English Pleasure Garden, imitated across Britain and Europe and as far afield as the Americas, New Zealand and Australia.
The Triumph of Pleasure contains over ninety exhibits drawn from major public and private collections across the country The Triumph of Pleasure: Vauxhall Gardens 1729 – 1786, will display works by Hogarth, Canaletto, Hayman, Rowlandson and Gainsborough. Visitors can view original manuscripts and song sheets which will be supported by a series of specially commissioned concerts. One of the last surviving supper box paintings will be on display alongside objects associated with the Gardens and the Foundling Hospital. This will include an identifying token left by a mother with the baby she left at the Foundling Hospital. This token is a copper 1737 Vauxhall Garden season ticket, attributed to Hogarth. The exhibition will also be the first time François Roubiliac’s three terracotta portrait busts of William Hogarth, George Frideric Handel and Jonathan Tyers have been seen together.
Vauxhall Gardens was an all-embracing sensual experience, becoming an international byword for pleasure and now, over 200 years later, visitors to the Foundling Museum can experience the sights, sounds and tastes of the Gardens once more. Curated by David Coke.
Foundling Museum, Brunswick Square40 Brunswick Square
London Greater London United Kingdom WC1N 1AZ