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William Hogarth - Beer Street


Beer Street (HD download)

This admirable delineation is a picture of John Bull in his most happy moments. In the left corner a Butcher and a Blacksmith are each of them grasping a foaming tankard of porter. By the King's Speech and the Daily Advertiser on the table before them, they appear to have been studying politicks, and settling the state of the Nation. The Blacksmith, having just purchased a shoulder of mutton, is triumphantly waving it in the air. Next to him a Drayman is whispering soft sentences of love to a Servant-maid, round whose neck is one of his arms; in the other hand a pot of porter. Two Fishwomen, furnished with a flagon of the same liquor, are chaunting a song of Mr. Lockman's on the British Herring Fishery. A Porter, having put a load of waste paper on the ground, is eagerly quaffing this best of barley wine; it is directed to the Trunk-maker, and contains five enormous folios—"Lauder on Milton; " "Politics, vol. 999" "Modern Tragedies, vol. 14;" "Hill on the Royal Society;" and "Turnbull on Antient Paintings." The two last are worthy of a better fate; for one has some wit, and the other many sensible remarks.

On the front of a house in ruins is inscribed Pinch, Pawn-broker; and through a hole in the door a boy delivers a full half-pint. In the back-ground are two Chairmen. They have joined for three-pennyworth, to recruit their spirits, and repair the fatigue they have undergone in trotting between two poles with a ponderous load of female frailty. Two Paviors are washing away their cares with a heart-cheering cup. In a garret window a trio of Tailors are employed in the same way; and on a house-top are four Bricklayers equally joyous. Each of these groups seems hale, happy and well cloathed. But the Artist, who is painting a glass bottle from an original which hangs before him, is in a deplorable plight; at the same time that he carries in his countenance a consciousness of his talents in this creative art.

Mr. Lamb points out for admiration this conceited, long- backed Sign-painter, who, with all the self-applause of a Raphael or Corregio, is contemplating the picture of a bottle, which he is drawing from an actual bottle that hangs beside him. While we smile at the enormity of the self delusion, can we help loving the good-humour and self complacency of the fellow? would we willingly wake him from his dream?" This is supposed to have been a stroke of satire on John Stephen Liotard. This miserable personage may however, be only intended to shew the state of the Arts at that time, when an English Painter, if not excellent in Portraits, had no other patronage than that of an ordinary Sign-painter.

Mr. Walpole supposed the Blacksmith's lifting the Frenchman in his hand to have been an after-thought; but this hyperbole is in the original Drawing.

 
 
Mise à jour le 27 juin 2014
Créé le 24 mai 2013
ISSN 2107-7029
DGESCO Clé des Langues