Age of Money Seven Ages of Britain


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Age of Money

The story of Britain through its art. In the 18th century, the triumph of commerce led to the emergence of a new 'middle' class, who craved pleasure and novelty.


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At the start of the 18th century, Britain was becoming

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the richest, most powerful nation in the world.

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Prosperity led to the creation of the Bank of England,

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a storehouse of the nation's wealth.

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I feel like Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.

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Shelf after shelf of delicious chocolate

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all wrapped up in gold foil ready for sale.

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But of course, this isn't actually chocolate -

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you'd break your teeth if you tried eating this.

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These are solid gold bars -

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90 billion pounds' worth of the stuff.

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Absolutely sensational.

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But this is what I've come to see.

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These are the real treasures of the Bank of England.

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They're the very, very earliest banknotes.

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And this is dated 18th May 1700, and it's a work of art in itself.

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It's absolutely beautifully printed,

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using very dark ink - because black was difficult to achieve,

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and it helped stop forgery -

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on carefully handmade paper.

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And at the top, a little seal of Britannia. Not of the monarch.

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It wasn't until the 1960s that the Queen's head appears.

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Banknotes like this radically changed the way life was led in Britain.

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Commerce grew, we became richer, our culture changed

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and, in the end, it was all reflected in our art.

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In the 18th century, Britain became, for the first time,

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a place we might recognise today.

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A new class of people was emerging,

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somewhere between the lord and the labourer.

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It was commerce and prosperity that created them -

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people with a bit of money to spare and an appetite for novelty and pleasure.

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It was the beginning of what we now call the middle class,

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though back then they were simply known as people of the middling sort.

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We see their faces in hundreds of paintings done at the time,

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and one of the best collections is here at Kenwood House.

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The paintings on these walls are no longer just kings and queens and aristocrats.

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There are people here whose title is Mr or Mrs -

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ordinary people who've risen to become people of influence,

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the power brokers of their age.

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Actors and politicians.

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Inventors, courtesans, even artists.

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Take this portrait, for instance.

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John Joseph Merlin, a portrait by Gainsborough.

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Merlin was a rather eccentric man.

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He was an inventor. He invented roller skates.

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He invented the clock.

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But he was no gentleman,

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and yet Gainsborough gives him all the airs of an aristocrat...

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his hand in his rather elegant coat,

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and in his left hand, another of his little inventions.

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This is a device for checking

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that a gold sovereign was of the correct weight,

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because prosperity,

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that was the key to power in this new age.

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There's something very refreshing about these paintings.

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They're quite unlike what had gone before.

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There's a sort of innocent pleasure in dressing up in fine clothes.

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Innocent pleasure, if a bit sentimental,

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in children playing with their dogs or in the countryside.

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And these are the paintings, remember, commissioned by this new class of people,

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people who weren't ashamed of their wealth,

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but wanted to be seen to enjoy it.

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Commerce and trade changed the face of Britain.

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A network of canals threaded their way through the countryside,

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to speed the movement of goods and raw materials.

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And entrepreneurs seized the opportunities this offered.

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In the mid-18th century,

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Stoke-on-Trent was at the heart of the Potteries,

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great industry, of which very little remains, just the occasional kiln.

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But back then,

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it was dirty and dangerous work producing pots.

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The potters used to suffer from terrible diseases,

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partly the lead in the glaze

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which gave them lung disease called "potter's rot".

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And the pots they made were fairly crude, using the local dark clay.

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And then a man, a local man, decided to change all that.

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His name was Josiah Wedgwood.

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Wedgwood, the 12th child of a poor family,

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was apprenticed into the Potteries.

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But his genius for design and scientific invention

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soon marked him out as more than a mere potter.

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Wedgwood pushed the boundaries of his art, experimenting with materials,

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opening up a new market with his distinctive blue and white designs,

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known as jasper ware.

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Wedgwood was a restless perfectionist,

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wanting to produce impeccable work, like these jasper teapots.

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He'd search for clay in Devon, in Cornwall, in America,

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anywhere in the world, to try and find the finest possible material,

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so that he could produce works that were as neat, as clear as this.

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He was obsessed with getting the colours exactly right

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and he experimented all the time.

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These are some of his experiments...

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These are little pieces of clay mixed with different minerals,

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each one numbered

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and each one with instructions of where they should go in the kiln,

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or the so-called "biscuit oven".

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MBO - middle of the biscuit oven.

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TBO - top of the biscuit oven.

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TTBO - tiptop of the biscuit oven.

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What a labour!

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All these experiments led to this - Wedgwood's great masterpiece.

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This is the Portland Vase.

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And it's a copy of a Roman vase

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that was brought to England in the 1780s,

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exhibited at the British Museum and caused a huge stir.

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People were so astonished by its beauty.

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They went to look at it, queued up to see it.

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And Wedgwood, always one with a sharp eye,

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decided he'd make a copy of it.

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And this is the copy.

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If you were rich enough,

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you could have the actual copy of the Roman vase in your house.

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But it wasn't easy to do,

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because the original Roman one was made of glass that had been blown.

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He had to use his own clay to make it,

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and so he started experimenting,

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and it took him over three years to get it right.

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Look, here's one that went wrong, with these bubbles on.

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Here's another one where the figures have started falling off, crumbling.

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And here's one that's almost perfect that he kept for himself.

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This is actually Josiah Wedgwood's OWN Portland Vase.

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In the end, he got it right and started producing these,

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and they're still produced even to this day.

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If I talk to you, will you lose your concentration?

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-No, you're all right.

-Will you?

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-Oh, you're all right?

-Yes.

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-How many have you made?

-Over a hundred.

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How many went wrong in the process of making a hundred?

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Oh, quite a few!

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-How do you know? Is this right so far?

-This one's all right so far.

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-Is it?

-Yes.

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Can it still go wrong at this stage?

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-It can still go wrong, yes.

-What could happen?

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-It could still collapse.

-You're looking a bit anxious.

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THEY CHUCKLE

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Wa-ay!

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I only once made a pot, and it started all right

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and then it went r-u-u-m, r-u-u-m and bussht!

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Right, I think that's it.

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-Job done?

-Yes.

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-Nice to meet you, anyway.

-Terrific!

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Thank you so much.

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The mass-marketing of luxury goods meant it was no longer just aristocrats

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who could buy fine things.

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Palatial homes for rich merchants sprang up across Britain

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and their houses needed furnishings to match.

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One innovator with an eye for the main chance

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was the furniture-maker Thomas Chippendale.

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Chippendale published catalogues of his work

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to enable consumers to choose exactly which ornate designs

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would look right in their homes.

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His Gentleman And Cabinet-Maker's Director of 1754

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was the IKEA catalogue of its day.

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Nostell Priory is a treasure trove of Chippendale.

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They have well over a hundred major pieces of furniture.

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74 chairs alone.

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Like this one - rather theatrical,

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not a particularly practical sort of chair to sit on.

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But it's not just chairs they've got.

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This is a fine gentleman's dressing table.

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A mirror, a basin here would've had the water in.

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Various pots for ointments, glass bottles.

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A set of six cut-throat razors, one for each day of the week.

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They didn't, apparently, shave on a Sunday.

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But the razors are numbered one to six.

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A tongue-scraper,

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for cleaning your tongue.

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Very ingenious!

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And in here, a different kind of Chippendale, flamboyant Chippendale.

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This is Chippendale building furniture in the Chinese style

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which was all the rage at the time.

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This beautiful, complex mirror.

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And over here, a clothes press,

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green lacquer with this gold.

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People sitting around the table here.

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A child with a dog barking at him down there.

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And if you open it,

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this pale green turns into this most beautiful, luscious emerald green

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where it hasn't been faded,

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the whole thing transporting you to the Far East.

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This is one of the finest rooms in Nostell,

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but it's a bit different from all the others.

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It's actually part of the Nostell doll's house.

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Look at that.

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It was made not for the children of the house

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but for the lady of the house

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to display the grandeur of her house to her friends, and her wealth,

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and it's so finely made that some people say

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that the actual bits of furniture were made by Chippendale himself.

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The detail is exquisite.

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These little silver plates, the fireplaces,

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this grand marble fireplace here.

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It's so beautifully made, this, so finely done, all this furniture.

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It makes me feel like a giant looking in on Nostell itself.

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Along with the fine objects that filled their homes,

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Britain's new elite was keen to embrace culture and learning as well.

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One man, above all, showed them the way.

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Dr Samuel Johnson, the son of a struggling bookseller,

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rose to become one of the most esteemed personalities of the age.

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In the house where he grew up is a copy of his greatest work.

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In 1755, Johnson's great masterpiece was published.

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It wasn't poetry, it wasn't a novel,

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it wasn't biography, it wasn't a play, though he wrote all of those.

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It was this two-volume Dr Johnson's Dictionary Of The English Language.

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This was a labour of love for Johnson, though at times, of course,

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he despaired that he'd ever finish it.

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Every single word written by him, with just a handful of assistants helping.

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Over 42,000 entries.

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This became the book that everybody who professed to be intelligent had to have.

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And when you browse through it, you can see exactly why.

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It's full of the most marvellous definition,

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but followed by magical description of how the word has been used in the past.

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A bedpresser.

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"A heavy, lazy fellow", and he quotes from Shakespeare's Henry IV.

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"This sanguine coward, this bedpresser, this horse back-breaker,

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"this huge hill of flesh."

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He was great on insults.

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Our insults, sadly, are rather limited and often start with the F-word.

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If you look at Johnson's F-words,

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we get fat-witted, flagitious, a flasher.

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Not what you think - "a man of more appearance of wit than reality".

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Footlicker.

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A fopdoodle.

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A fopdoodle is an insignificant wretch.

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Or how about calling somebody a fustilarian?

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"A low fellow, a stinkard, a scoundrel",

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and he says, interestingly, "a word used by Shakespeare only".

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"Away, you scullion, you rampallion, you fustilarian,

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"I'll tickle your catastrophe."

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In 1707, the Act of Union had united England and Scotland

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into one single political entity -

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Great Britain.

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Travel and communication became faster and safer,

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transforming the fortunes of both countries.

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Most Scots strongly objected to the Act of Union.

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But it did bring benefits, not least free trade.

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Access to England's markets overseas, in the colonies,

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particularly America, meant that Scotland became prosperous.

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And by the middle of the century

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its economy was growing faster than that of England.

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And it wasn't just trade. The prosperity also brought a new ferment of ideas,

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so that for a time, Scotland was the intellectual powerhouse of Europe.

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Nothing reveals this change more than Edinburgh New Town.

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It was begun, at vast expense, in the 1760s.

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With its wide, light-filled avenues built on a rational grid formation,

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it complemented Edinburgh's new-found reputation

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as the Athens of the North.

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It wasn't the architecture that excited admiration, grand though it was.

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It was the great minds who lived here.

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A visiting Englishman said he could stand in the middle of town

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and in a few minutes, grasp 50 people of genius and learning by the hand.

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England might have its artists and its designers.

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Scotland had philosophers and scientists,

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people who changed the way we thought of the world.

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Dr William Hunter was one of the many Scots

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who epitomised this new spirit of intellectual inquiry.

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He was a leading anatomist and male midwife.

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Hunter was also a lover of art

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and he brought art and science together

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to unlock some of the great mysteries of the age.

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This is the culmination of an astonishing life's work.

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These are plaster casts of women who've died in childbirth,

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either in the hospital or perhaps bought from grave-robbers,

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which in the 18th century

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was a popular way of making a bit of money on the side.

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Hunter wouldn't care particularly

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as long as he could get bodies of dead women

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and study what went on inside the womb.

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And here you can clearly see what's gone wrong.

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The child has got its umbilical cord round its neck,

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which would be dangerous were it to be born,

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but it's also in the breach position.

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It's going to be born bottom first, head upwards.

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And then next to it, this beautiful...

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it's like a sculpture, this child,

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lying curled up with its arms furled and its feet tucked in.

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But Hunter wanted to go further than that.

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He wanted to show every detail with ruthless precision and accuracy,

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and to do that, he needed an artist.

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And very fine the drawings that artist produced are,

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in red chalk, pictures of exactly the same stages of childbirth

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that were in the plaster casts.

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These very fine lines, creases on the womb.

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This was the first time that people had been able to see into the womb

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and watch how the child developed and watch why children died

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and mothers died in childbirth.

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It was an astonishing achievement of William Hunter's.

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If Scotland was the new intellectual hub of the nation,

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London was the business capital.

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Here, money ruled.

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Fortunes were made and broken overnight.

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The Italian artist Canaletto, best known for his paintings of Venice,

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was fascinated by London.

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He captured its grandeur in his own inimitable style,

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embellishing it a bit in the process.

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But there was a seamier side to the city.

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One London-born painter determined to reveal it was William Hogarth.

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Though Hogarth rose to the top of his profession,

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he never forgot the poverty of his youth.

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Tucked away in this tiny, but packed museum

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is Hogarth's greatest masterpiece.

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This is The Rake's Progress by Hogarth,

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the story of the decline and fall

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of a rich young man who comes to the City.

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It's a morality tale about the evils of 18th-century life,

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of the effects of too much money,

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of drunkenness, of whoring,

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of gambling. But, being Hogarth,

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he doesn't bludgeon the audience with his message.

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He does it all with terrific mischief and a sense of humour.

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The story starts

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with Tom Rakewell inheriting from his father,

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and there's Tom

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in the middle of the room being measured for a new suit

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to go to London - something he can now afford. And around,

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all the signs of his father's miserliness.

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A chest full of silver.

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There's a lawyer doing the accounts to show Tom his new wealth,

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and of course the wealth goes to his head.

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He abandons the girl who he's promised to marry - Sarah, the maid -

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who's standing there in the corner holding the wedding ring, rather forlorn,

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while an older woman points to the maid's stomach, to Sarah,

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to show that she's actually pregnant.

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Does Tom care? No.

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Tom goes off to London and, in a moment, is surrounded by all the temptations.

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There he is getting dressed in front of all the people

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who dance attendance on him.

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Silver toque on his head where his wig will go. On the left, the music teacher

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wanting to teach him to play Handel.

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The dancing master on tiptoe with his violin.

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Down here, there's a jockey

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with a great silver cup and a whip showing him the winnings he could have.

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And a man comes approaching him

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with a note of recommendation from another employer.

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So, there he is, surrounded by everything that the great city has to offer.

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All the tricks of the trade for which, of course, he will fall, and fall he does.

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In picture number three, this is the Rose Tavern -

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a famous St James' brothel. And there's Tom, drunk.

0:27:230:27:29

Clearly he's drunk. He's got a glass of wine and there's wine all around.

0:27:290:27:33

Shirt's undone,

0:27:330:27:34

his sword hanging limply by his side,

0:27:340:27:39

a sort of symbol that with drunkenness his virility has gone.

0:27:390:27:42

And the girls all have black spots to cover syphilitic sores.

0:27:420:27:49

It's a scene of debauchery

0:27:490:27:53

and chaos - the chaos into which Tom's life

0:27:530:27:56

has already descended. And the consequences follow soon.

0:27:560:28:01

He gets arrested.

0:28:030:28:06

He's on his way to St James's Palace

0:28:060:28:07

to go to court. He's dressed in all his finery,

0:28:070:28:11

but his wig comes askew

0:28:110:28:13

as a man comes up to dun him for his debts.

0:28:130:28:16

And who should appear to try and rescue him?

0:28:160:28:21

Sarah, the girl that he betrayed.

0:28:210:28:24

She's offering him a little bag of money to pay his debts.

0:28:240:28:29

So what happens then?

0:28:290:28:31

In despair, Tom decides to get married.

0:28:310:28:35

He takes the obvious course

0:28:360:28:38

of looking for a rich widow in need of a husband.

0:28:380:28:41

And choosing a really rich woman, he can't afford to be too picky

0:28:410:28:45

about what she looks like -

0:28:450:28:47

one-eyed and squat and dumpy.

0:28:470:28:51

And his eyes are actually looking past her

0:28:510:28:55

to the buxom young servant girl who's dressing her for the marriage.

0:28:550:29:00

But there's another bit of morality tale here because...

0:29:010:29:05

being denied entrance to the church to complain about the marriage

0:29:050:29:09

is Sarah once again.

0:29:090:29:12

This time, Sarah carrying her little baby in her arms.

0:29:120:29:17

Now, what effect does the marriage have?

0:29:190:29:22

Does Tom sober up?

0:29:220:29:24

He's got the money, he can now lead a respectable life,

0:29:240:29:27

and no doubt he could still have the odd maid from time to time. Uh-uh.

0:29:270:29:30

He goes off gambling.

0:29:300:29:32

And this is the final downfall of Tom.

0:29:330:29:36

Here he is at the gaming tables.

0:29:360:29:38

He's just lost a large sum of money.

0:29:380:29:40

In fact, everybody here seems to have lost money.

0:29:400:29:44

And here in the centre, Tom with a kind of manic look in his eyes,

0:29:460:29:50

shaking his fist and cursing his misfortune

0:29:500:29:53

that all his money is gone.

0:29:530:29:56

His wig's fallen off.

0:29:560:29:57

On the floor, the chair's fallen over.

0:29:570:29:59

And finally, he does get dunned for his debt.

0:30:010:30:05

He's thrown into the debtors' prison.

0:30:050:30:07

And here he is in the Fleet, looking distraught.

0:30:090:30:16

On his left sits the wife,

0:30:160:30:19

whose money he's spent, scolding him.

0:30:190:30:22

One person again comes to rescue him.

0:30:220:30:27

And it's Sarah, who comes and sees him

0:30:270:30:30

in the debtor prison

0:30:300:30:33

and faints away

0:30:330:30:35

and has to be given smelling salts to revive her.

0:30:350:30:38

And at the bottom, tugging at her mother's dress,

0:30:380:30:42

is the child that she and Tom had.

0:30:420:30:45

The child obviously looking

0:30:450:30:47

anxious, distressed, angry at what's happened to her mother.

0:30:470:30:51

And it gets worse.

0:30:510:30:53

He ends up in Bedlam -

0:30:560:30:58

the lunatic asylum,

0:30:580:31:00

the place that ladies of fashion came to visit simply to gawp

0:31:000:31:06

at this ghastly dance of the mad.

0:31:060:31:11

This huge figure is Tom, chained up for his own safety,

0:31:160:31:23

gone mad and, once again,

0:31:230:31:25

Sarah in this final scene, weeping over Tom

0:31:250:31:31

and over what might have been

0:31:310:31:33

and over the destruction of his life.

0:31:330:31:36

It's an extraordinary story, and Hogarth tells it in a way

0:31:390:31:45

that makes us feel a kind of sympathy for Tom.

0:31:450:31:48

But, at the same time,

0:31:480:31:51

with a humour but also with a passion.

0:31:510:31:55

It's perhaps because Hogarth himself understood,

0:31:550:31:58

knew what the 18th century was like.

0:31:580:32:00

If you were up, you were up.

0:32:000:32:02

If you were rich, you were fine.

0:32:020:32:04

If you fell into poverty, your life could be hell.

0:32:040:32:08

For Hogarth, it wasn't enough just to depict the miseries of the poor.

0:32:240:32:28

He wanted to do his bit to alleviate their suffering.

0:32:280:32:33

In the 18th century, the children of the poorest families were very vulnerable.

0:32:410:32:46

Three out of four died before they were six years old.

0:32:460:32:51

Thousands more were abandoned by mothers either too young or too poor

0:32:510:32:55

or perhaps ashamed of having a child outside marriage.

0:32:550:32:59

And each day, young infants, wrapped up, were found in doorways,

0:32:590:33:03

outside churches, left abandoned by their mothers.

0:33:030:33:06

Children literally thrown away like rubbish.

0:33:060:33:10

Hogarth was so horrified

0:33:170:33:20

by such sights that he gave his services as patron and governor

0:33:200:33:24

to help the wealthy merchant Thomas Coram

0:33:240:33:26

create London's first sanctuary for abandoned children.

0:33:260:33:30

The Foundling Hospital opened its doors in 1741.

0:33:350:33:41

From the moment the hospital opened, there was a huge demand

0:33:490:33:52

from mothers wanting to leave their children here.

0:33:520:33:55

So much so that in the early days, they devised a ballot system

0:33:550:33:58

to decide which children to take. It must've been very gruesome.

0:33:580:34:01

The mothers came with their children

0:34:010:34:04

and dipped their hands in a bag and took out a coloured ball.

0:34:040:34:08

White ball - relief - it meant your child would be taken into the hospital,

0:34:080:34:12

subject to a medical test.

0:34:120:34:14

Red ball - on tenterhooks - it was put on a waiting list.

0:34:140:34:18

Black ball - disaster - the child was turned away.

0:34:180:34:23

Pure chance. Just a lottery.

0:34:230:34:27

Then, when they were left here,

0:34:290:34:31

the mothers wanted to leave something of themselves with the child,

0:34:310:34:34

and so these tokens...

0:34:340:34:36

..were often given to the hospital,

0:34:380:34:40

partly to identify the child,

0:34:400:34:42

partly that the child might feel some connection with the mother.

0:34:420:34:46

This, for instance.

0:34:490:34:52

A little circle of crystal.

0:34:520:34:56

Almost looks as if it's been taken off a chandelier,

0:34:560:35:00

because it's not anything you could wear.

0:35:000:35:03

Or this...rather more humble.

0:35:050:35:08

A thimble.

0:35:080:35:10

This is thought to be a gambling token.

0:35:100:35:14

A little ivory fish.

0:35:150:35:17

This is a very beautiful, heart-shaped mother-of-pearl,

0:35:190:35:24

with the initials EL.

0:35:240:35:27

Really pretty.

0:35:270:35:29

And this one, which is a giveaway, isn't it?

0:35:290:35:33

This was a token left by a mother

0:35:330:35:35

and it just says "ale".

0:35:350:35:37

It would've hung around a beer jug.

0:35:370:35:41

They're absolutely fascinating,

0:35:420:35:45

but the really moving thing about them is

0:35:450:35:48

they were never given to the children.

0:35:480:35:50

The mothers left them, the hospital locked them up, carefully indexed,

0:35:500:35:55

but never let the children have them

0:35:550:35:57

because they didn't want the children to know where they came from,

0:35:570:36:01

except if the mother came back to claim the child,

0:36:010:36:04

which did occasionally happen but very, very rarely.

0:36:040:36:07

Only one in 100 mothers returned here looking for their children.

0:36:070:36:12

There was more to this place than just looking after abandoned children.

0:36:270:36:32

The Foundling Hospital was a fashionable charity.

0:36:320:36:36

People in the upper reaches of London society supported it,

0:36:360:36:39

the artistic elite supported it.

0:36:390:36:42

Handel came here and, for free, conducted the Messiah

0:36:420:36:45

on nine different occasions as a fundraiser.

0:36:450:36:48

Hogarth persuaded painters - Gainsborough, Reynolds and others -

0:36:480:36:53

to paint their pictures and hang them here for free.

0:36:530:36:56

And when people who were involved in the charity

0:36:560:36:57

came here to look at the children, to leave a donation,

0:36:570:37:01

they also came here to look at the pictures on the walls.

0:37:010:37:04

This was the first public art gallery in Britain.

0:37:040:37:09

The exhibitions at the Foundling Hospital

0:37:250:37:28

gave artists the idea of displaying their work

0:37:280:37:31

to a new, wider public with an appetite for culture.

0:37:310:37:35

In 1768, the leading artists of the day, with royal approval,

0:37:380:37:43

set up an academy for the promotion of British art.

0:37:430:37:47

We take academies and art galleries for granted now -

0:38:090:38:13

after all, they're two a penny in London.

0:38:130:38:15

But when the Royal Academy was founded in 1768,

0:38:150:38:19

it transformed the fortunes of British artists.

0:38:190:38:23

It gave them the recognition they craved and deserved.

0:38:230:38:28

And it also allowed them to make a bit of money in the process.

0:38:280:38:32

The lifeblood of the Academy was the annual Summer Show.

0:38:420:38:47

The policy was stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap.

0:38:470:38:50

It was a hugely popular event,

0:38:520:38:55

attracting up to 80,000 visitors a year. A place to see and be seen.

0:38:550:39:01

But the Royal Academy wasn't just about shifting stock.

0:39:040:39:08

It also took on students.

0:39:080:39:11

Pupils here were subjected to the strict teachings of Joshua Reynolds,

0:39:150:39:19

the first President of the Academy.

0:39:190:39:22

Reynolds provided them with the rigorous classical training that they lacked.

0:39:270:39:31

He taught a whole new generation of British artists how to draw.

0:39:310:39:34

He believed that anyone could become a good artist

0:39:340:39:39

if only they would follow the rules -

0:39:390:39:41

the rules of course were his rules -

0:39:410:39:43

as set out in his series of lectures, or discourses,

0:39:430:39:46

which he gave to his fellow academicians

0:39:460:39:48

and to students.

0:39:480:39:50

What he encouraged them to do

0:39:500:39:53

was to aim high,

0:39:530:39:54

to pursue art with the same style and energy

0:39:540:39:58

as the great masters of the Renaissance.

0:39:580:40:01

And that way success lay.

0:40:010:40:04

The Royal Academy made the decision, bold for the time,

0:40:070:40:11

to accept women artists,

0:40:110:40:14

although at the start, very few applied.

0:40:140:40:16

This painting shows the founding members of the Royal Academy

0:40:180:40:23

at a life class.

0:40:230:40:25

You'll notice they're all men.

0:40:250:40:27

It was thought improper for women to draw naked models.

0:40:270:40:32

The two female members have been relegated to a side wall -

0:40:320:40:36

Mary Moser and Angelica Kauffmann.

0:40:360:40:39

Angelica Kauffmann doesn't seem to have suffered all that much

0:40:410:40:45

from not being allowed to draw in the life class,

0:40:450:40:48

as these four magnificent roundels in the ceiling show.

0:40:480:40:52

They are the allegorical depiction of the elements of art.

0:40:520:40:56

Now, this one is Design,

0:40:560:40:58

and it shows a woman artist

0:40:580:41:01

drawing a naked torso, but not of a living person,

0:41:010:41:04

but a plaster cast.

0:41:040:41:06

And it stresses the elements of proportion -

0:41:060:41:09

the shape of the human body and how to get that down on paper.

0:41:090:41:14

And then, over here,

0:41:140:41:16

Composition...again a woman artist,

0:41:160:41:20

this time contemplating a chess set...

0:41:200:41:23

..and with a pair of compasses in her hand,

0:41:250:41:27

stressing the element

0:41:270:41:30

of mathematics and organisation of art.

0:41:300:41:34

This one is Colour,

0:41:370:41:39

and it shows the artist

0:41:390:41:42

stealing pigment from the rainbow and using it on her palette.

0:41:420:41:46

And then over here, the final one, Invention.

0:41:490:41:52

This is a sort of ethereal figure of the artist

0:41:550:41:59

with wings on her head, her hand resting on the globe, contemplating.

0:41:590:42:03

The battle to survive in the open market led ambitious artists

0:42:140:42:19

to exploit new, eye-catching ways of drawing attention to themselves.

0:42:190:42:25

THUNDERCLAP

0:42:500:42:51

In 1781, the artist and melodramatic theatrical designer

0:42:540:42:59

Philippe Jacques de Loutherbourg hit on a brilliant idea.

0:42:590:43:02

He called it the Eidophusikon,

0:43:020:43:04

and it was to give people the kind of excitement

0:43:040:43:06

that years later they'd get from the cinema.

0:43:060:43:09

It was to put on a melodramatic show

0:43:090:43:11

that they'd sit and watch in amazement,

0:43:110:43:14

and this is how it works.

0:43:140:43:16

WAVES CRASHING

0:43:160:43:18

WAVES CRASHING

0:43:260:43:27

De Loutherbourg's great skill was to recreate the dramatic side of nature -

0:43:340:43:40

the most wonderful seascapes

0:43:400:43:43

and moonshine and sunsets,

0:43:430:43:46

storms at sea and volcanic eruptions.

0:43:460:43:50

And to do it, he used a series of screens

0:43:500:43:53

that came up and down

0:43:530:43:56

accompanied by music and dramatic lighting.

0:43:560:43:59

WAVES CRASHING AND THUNDERCLAPS

0:43:590:44:02

THUNDERCLAPS

0:44:050:44:08

The idea behind it was to appeal to people who lived in the cities

0:44:080:44:13

but wanted to reconnect with nature in the raw.

0:44:130:44:16

So they'd sit here in a kind of mixture of amazement and terror.

0:44:160:44:21

One regular visitor to de Loutherbourg's shows

0:44:450:44:49

was the great painter Thomas Gainsborough.

0:44:490:44:52

He too was inspired to add a touch of showmanship to his art.

0:44:530:44:58

This curious contraption is known as Gainsborough's Show Box.

0:45:010:45:06

Gainsborough was always fascinated by the effect of light on landscape

0:45:060:45:12

and on the sky and the sea, and this was a device so he could experiment

0:45:120:45:15

with different kinds of light.

0:45:150:45:17

And he used it for himself to work with,

0:45:170:45:20

but also just for entertainment, to show his friends.

0:45:200:45:23

The principle's very simple.

0:45:230:45:25

There's a glass plate in the front here which he had painted.

0:45:250:45:29

There - one of eight that the box can take.

0:45:310:45:36

Just like a stage set.

0:45:380:45:40

Behind it...

0:45:400:45:42

..there are five candles -

0:45:440:45:47

these are the candleholders - which shone through a cotton screen

0:45:470:45:52

to diffuse the light before it hit the glass plate.

0:45:520:45:57

Shut the box to seal the light off

0:45:570:45:59

and come round here, look through...

0:45:590:46:01

..and you see this painting lit from behind,

0:46:030:46:07

the most extraordinary effect -

0:46:070:46:08

a golden sun on trees and a cottage in a little valley.

0:46:080:46:14

And you could experiment, even at this stage, by pulling

0:46:140:46:17

the magnifying glass out, coming back a bit...

0:46:170:46:21

you get a slightly different aspect of the landscape.

0:46:210:46:24

It's magical, this one.

0:46:260:46:28

'Artists were also quick to exploit improvements in technology

0:46:360:46:40

'and distribution.'

0:46:400:46:42

When did you start learning this business, Ray?

0:46:420:46:45

I was 15.

0:46:450:46:47

-15?

-About 30 years ago.

0:46:470:46:49

Really?

0:46:490:46:51

Does that pass the test?

0:46:530:46:55

Not bad. We could work with that.

0:46:550:46:56

'For the first time,

0:47:020:47:04

'high-quality reproductions could be produced in bulk

0:47:040:47:08

'and sold at affordable prices to a mass audience.

0:47:080:47:11

'A successful print could make an artist a small fortune.'

0:47:140:47:18

Let's have a look.

0:47:300:47:31

Well, for your first one that's pretty good.

0:47:310:47:34

Excellent.

0:47:350:47:37

Well, that, that's all quite good, isn't it?

0:47:390:47:41

-Mm-hm.

-That's come out well.

0:47:410:47:43

Yes. Nice and bright.

0:47:430:47:45

Beautiful detail on these bottles here. Look at this. And that.

0:47:450:47:50

I love all this ornate working around the outside as well.

0:47:510:47:56

What's special about it from your point of view as a printer?

0:47:560:47:59

As a printer, I mean, the quality of work, I mean, it's just...

0:47:590:48:04

The depth and the lights, they're just fantastic.

0:48:040:48:07

It's just a wonderful, wonderful art in itself.

0:48:070:48:11

The ever-expanding print market led to the creation of a new type of art -

0:48:220:48:27

one that appealed to the British sense of humour...

0:48:270:48:30

..the political caricature.

0:48:320:48:34

Britain was famed across the world for its press freedoms.

0:48:380:48:41

We were the envy of countries that lived under more authoritarian regimes

0:48:410:48:45

because, in London, political chicanery

0:48:450:48:48

and social snobbery were mercilessly ridiculed.

0:48:480:48:51

Every day, a new cartoon would be published

0:48:510:48:54

to satisfy the appetite to pillory those in power.

0:48:540:48:58

And people who couldn't afford to buy the cartoons

0:48:580:49:02

would come to shops like this and simply stand outside and have a good laugh

0:49:020:49:07

and mock those in power.

0:49:070:49:09

The greatest caricaturist of all was James Gillray.

0:49:150:49:20

For Gillray, nothing was sacred.

0:49:220:49:26

He satirised the Royal Family,

0:49:260:49:30

the Prime Minister.

0:49:300:49:33

He exposed the greed of bankers...

0:49:330:49:37

he mocked fashion...

0:49:370:49:40

..and even laughed at everyday diseases, like gout!

0:49:420:49:47

He was particularly susceptible to toilet humour.

0:49:480:49:54

But as the 1790s dawned, one affair,

0:49:560:50:00

a dramatic upheaval, attracted his particular attention.

0:50:000:50:04

The biggest event at the end of the 18th century,

0:50:110:50:14

which affected Gillray and everybody,

0:50:140:50:16

was the cataclysm of the French Revolution,

0:50:160:50:19

this attempt to overturn a whole society and renew it.

0:50:190:50:23

And people were riveted by it,

0:50:230:50:24

some in favour, some - from the beginning - very much against.

0:50:240:50:27

Gillray started rather in favour,

0:50:270:50:29

like a lot of people were, of what was happening in France,

0:50:290:50:32

but quite quickly turned against it.

0:50:320:50:34

But this cartoon shows a kind of mixed emotion.

0:50:340:50:38

Here is Pitt, the Prime Minister, hanging from a lamppost

0:50:380:50:43

and the Queen, with her breasts showing naked, hanging beside him,

0:50:430:50:48

it has to be said, in a slightly suggestive position.

0:50:480:50:52

What a wonderful cartoon of the Queen that is.

0:50:520:50:55

And then, here is the King, George III,

0:50:550:50:59

who's about to be decapitated.

0:50:590:51:01

And he's being held with his bottom up in the air here

0:51:010:51:05

and...Gillray had such a low opinion of the King that he has him saying,

0:51:050:51:09

"What, what, what? What's the matter now?"

0:51:090:51:13

Completely unaware of what's going on.

0:51:130:51:15

It's a sort of comic take on the Revolution

0:51:170:51:20

and how it would look seen from the British political scene.

0:51:200:51:24

But as the news from France got more and more grim -

0:51:240:51:27

stories of the violence, the bloodshed,

0:51:270:51:30

the daily murder of aristocrats,

0:51:300:51:34

everybody killing everybody in the end, the Reign of Terror -

0:51:340:51:37

Gillray changed his tune.

0:51:370:51:39

He looked on it then as something of real horror.

0:51:390:51:43

It has the revolutionaries

0:51:430:51:45

sitting round after their day's work at the guillotine,

0:51:450:51:48

eating the bodies of the people they've decapitated.

0:51:480:51:52

This man here with the revolutionary cap

0:51:520:51:56

eating the eye from the head of a body

0:51:560:51:59

that's been executed that day.

0:51:590:52:02

And the women beside eating the heart,

0:52:020:52:06

the kidneys.

0:52:060:52:07

Somebody's sitting bare-bottomed

0:52:070:52:11

on top of a naked woman eating the arm.

0:52:110:52:15

And over here, an old crone is basting the body of a young child

0:52:150:52:20

by the fire, pouring oil over it,

0:52:200:52:23

turning it to get it just neatly roasted, ready for the table.

0:52:230:52:28

And then the children of course are being given the leftovers,

0:52:280:52:30

and what are they eating?

0:52:300:52:32

They're eating the intestines of the decapitated aristocrats.

0:52:320:52:37

An absolutely horrific portrait.

0:52:380:52:43

And it was a sign of a real terror, exaggerated of course,

0:52:440:52:50

that Gillray felt would reign if the French Revolution came to Britain,

0:52:500:52:54

as many people began to fear that it would

0:52:540:52:57

The Revolution and the ensuing wars between Britain and France

0:53:080:53:13

lasted 22 years.

0:53:130:53:16

For Britain, the cost was crippling,

0:53:160:53:18

bringing an end to the exuberance of the Age of Money.

0:53:180:53:23

But the war also provided the backdrop

0:53:230:53:26

for the emergence of a new type of hero,

0:53:260:53:28

a figure whose fame encapsulated the changes

0:53:280:53:32

in British society that had defined the century.

0:53:320:53:37

On 8th January 1806, a Royal funeral barge bearing a coffin

0:53:440:53:50

left the Queen's Steps at Greenwich.

0:53:500:53:53

The gilded barge was draped in black velvet.

0:53:530:53:57

The canopy over the coffin bore black ostrich feathers.

0:53:570:54:01

A flotilla of boats followed it as it rowed upstream

0:54:010:54:05

and every minute they fired a salute.

0:54:050:54:08

This sombre procession was watched from the banks

0:54:080:54:12

by crowds of weeping mourners.

0:54:120:54:15

But this Royal barge wasn't carrying a king.

0:54:150:54:19

It was carrying a commoner, a man who'd risen through the ranks

0:54:190:54:24

to become the greatest naval commander in our history -

0:54:240:54:28

Admiral Lord Nelson.

0:54:280:54:29

Nelson was the son of a humble Norfolk parson.

0:54:350:54:38

Through a sparkling naval career fighting the French,

0:54:410:54:44

he became the toast of the nation.

0:54:440:54:47

His death at the Battle of Trafalgar

0:54:480:54:51

inspired numerous paintings and mass reproductions

0:54:510:54:55

which brought Nelson's image into every patriot's home.

0:54:550:54:59

This is where, at the end of the first state funeral ever given to a commoner,

0:55:310:55:37

Nelson was buried, here in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral,

0:55:370:55:42

right under the huge central dome.

0:55:420:55:45

Hallowed ground

0:55:450:55:47

given to Horatio Viscount Nelson.

0:55:470:55:51

On the marble floor all around, symbols of the sea, the anchor there,

0:55:510:55:57

and the words of the famous message

0:55:570:55:59

he sent on the eve of the Battle of Trafalgar to the fleet...

0:55:590:56:02

"England expects every man to do his duty."

0:56:020:56:06

And what a tomb this is.

0:56:080:56:09

This beautifully carved black marble was made by an Italian sculptor,

0:56:090:56:15

not for Nelson, but it was going to be used by Henry VIII.

0:56:150:56:19

He didn't, and it was left for 300 years at Windsor.

0:56:190:56:24

It was rediscovered and, at the time of Nelson's death, it was decided

0:56:240:56:29

that this was a suitable tomb for the great Admiral Nelson himself.

0:56:290:56:35

And look at the top of it.

0:56:350:56:36

There, where there might have been Henry's crown,

0:56:360:56:40

is a viscount's coronet, Nelson's coronet.

0:56:400:56:44

This man, the son of a humble Norfolk parson, who'd risen so high.

0:56:440:56:49

This man who really typifies that very middling class

0:56:490:56:53

that came into their own in the 18th century,

0:56:530:56:56

a commoner buried here in St Paul's like a king.

0:56:560:57:01

In the next age...

0:57:280:57:29

the excitement of exploration...

0:57:290:57:33

..building a new world...

0:57:350:57:37

the allure of India...

0:57:370:57:39

..Imperial domination -

0:57:400:57:42

it's Britain in the Age of Empire.

0:57:420:57:47

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:58:120:58:18

In the 18th century, the triumph of commerce led to the emergence of a new 'middle' class, a group of people who craved pleasure and novelty, and developed its own tastes in art. The result was a golden age in painting, with Hogarth, Reynolds and Gainsborough reinventing the British style.

The story ends in 1805 with the burial of Horatio Nelson, a commoner, at the heart of St Paul's: the supremacy of the middle class assured.