Perhaps unsurprisingly, the rise in population led to a rise in crime and social unrest. Whether London was essentially a more dangerous and anarchic environment than in the late seventeenth century is debatable. Concomitant, but not the cause of the social problems, was the dramatic upsurge in gin drinking among the lower classes.
His pictures breathe a certain close, greasy, tavern air. Hogarth was rarely compelled to depict bubbling brooks or docile cows. London and surrounds offer an irresistible cacophony of nightlife, food and drink, natural wonders and world-leading culture for you to check out.
Along with its pendant, Beer Street, it is among 70 works on show in a new exhibition, Vices of Life: By the time he executed Gin Lane, Hogarth had already reached the height of his career.
Born the son of a bankrupt schoolmaster, he endured an impoverished childhood, before becoming apprenticed to a silver engraver. In his early twenties he set up on his own, churning out trade cards and lowly book illustrations. At this stage, he was still a hack.
Yet thanks to his talent, as well as his business acumen something he did not inherit from his father, who ran a coffee shop that failed, and spent four years as a debtor in the notorious Fleet PrisonHogarth achieved success as a professional artist.
Two years before the publication of Beer Street and Gin Lane, he was already wealthy enough to afford a country house in Chiswick.
Concerned citizens such as the novelist Henry Fielding, who was a friend of Hogarth, held the spirit accountable for the sharp increase in disorder, criminality and infant mortality blighting London. The Gin Craze has even been compared to the abuse of crack cocaine in inner cities today.
Fielding was one of a number of prominent campaigners whose efforts resulted in the Gin Act ofwhich helped to curb the epidemic. Hogarth created Beer Street and Gin Lane in order to add some punchy visual rhetoric to the same campaign.
Rather than commission master-engravers from France, as he occasionally did when pitching new prints to upscale connoisseurs, Hogarth produced the plates himself to ensure they remained affordable for a large audience. Gin Lane thrusts us into the abyss of the slum of St Giles north of Covent Garden, where alcoholic mothers pour gin into the mouths of their offspring.
The central figure, a crazed, half-naked prostitute with syphilitic sores on her legs, is oblivious of her baby tumbling to its death. Elsewhere, destitute gin drinkers are reduced to a brutal, feral existence.
A carpenter and a housewife wearing ragged clothes desperately pawn their tools and pots and pans in order to fund their habit. Behind the parapet a boy competes with a dog to gnaw on a bone.
The cadaverous ballad-singer slumped in the foreground is in a woeful state of ill health. His black dog symbolises despair. Meanwhile, in the background, actual corpses are visible — including the hanged barber in the upper storey of a partially ruined house.
In this section we are confronted by a frenzied crowd of drunkards, cavorting and causing havoc: This is a gin-fuelled, topsy-turvy world of mob rule, precipitating the breakdown of society in general — symbolised by the collapsing building at the far end of the miserable vista. Set in Westminster, where trades and crafts are seen to thrive, rather than St Giles where the poverty-stricken residents are feckless and unemployed, it features healthy, well-fed labourers at leisure, enjoying large, frothing tankards of the national brew.
Nearby, fishwives with overflowing baskets suggest that a society based on solid, honest mercantile values — untainted by that foreign spirit, gin — will be rewarded with abundance and prosperity.
Hogarth did not have a pastoral imagination.Beer Street portrays the perceived goodness of the product, and show more content Those depicted in Gin Lane subside in a constant state of chaos as “Virtue and Truth, [are] driv'n to Despair”(1, Hogarth); mothers disregard their children, people constantly argue.
The Four Stages of Cruelty, like Gin Lane and Beer Street, are commonly considered ‘popular’ prints. However they were priced at 1 shilling, a sum well beyond the means of the vast majority of Londoners.
Beer Street and Gin Lane are two prints issued in by English artist William Hogarth in support of what would become the Gin Act. Designed to be viewed alongside each other, they depict the evils of the consumption of gin as a contrast to the merits of drinking beer.
Hogarth produced Beer Street and Gin Lane in , when he was already well established as an artist. Part of his second wave of 'morality paintings' the set was created to highlight the problems related to the consumption of gin which affected a large part of London society at the time.
Beer Street shows a happy city drinking the 'good' beverage of English beer, People are shown as healthy, happy and prosperous while in Gin Lane they are unhealthy, lazy and careless. Gin Lane addresses a very real problem in mid eighteenth century England, the abuse of gin by the working classes and the poor.
There are several references in this article to the prosperity of Beer Street (represented by the woman in the sedan chair) being the causing poverty of Gin Lane. This isn't an interpretation I've heard before, and the article itself doesn't explain this.