The Foundling Hospital played an important role in the developing community of artists in London in the 1740s and 1750s. Hogarth was the principal force behind this. Back in 1740, Hogarth had donated his portrait of Captain Coram to the hospital, and in 1746 Hogarth, together with Rysbrack, suggested a plan to the Governors of the Hospital whereby artists, principally painters and sculptors, would donate work to decorate the (public) areas of the hospital, and, in return, would have their work seen by those sections of polite society who might commission more work from the artists. The plan was approved and became a great success. A committee was formed to meet annually on November 5 to oversee the donations. Hogarth, Francis Hayman, Joseph Highmore, James Wills, Thomas Gainsborough, Samuel Wale, Richard Wilson, and more all donated works.
As was frequently the case in eighteenth-century England, the annual business meeting of the committee soon acquired a dinner, which grew into a large gathering of artists and their supporters. Few records of these dinners survive, with the exception of the one held on November 5, 1757. At this dinner, an astonishing 154 people signed the guest list. The original list is long lost, but it was transcribed and later published in [Brownlow 1847, 17—20]. Brownlow sorted the names alphabetically within profession (Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers) and non-artist supporters (who did not get a heading). He also included some helpful footnotes identifying some of the names. The list thus stands as one of the few lengthy sources of the names of active artists in the late 1750s.
Joshua Kirby was present at the dinner, and out of the artists there that evening, at least 40 had subscribed to his Method of Perspective, as well as some half a dozen of the supporters.
Brownlow, J. (1847) Memoranda; or, Chronicles of the Foundling Hospital, Including Memoirs of Captain Coram, etc. London.