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William Hogarth - Company of Undertakers


Company of Undertakers (HD download)


This Print contains a groupe of Medical Practitioners, well known in 1736, the time when it appeared; the greater part (probably the whole) being genuine Portraits.

As these sage Descendants of Galen have long retired to those mansions which have been peopled by their Patients, we cannot accurately ascertain any more than the three who are, by way of distinction, placed in the Chief, or most honourable part of the escutcheon. These, who, from their exalted station, are the most distinguished Leeches of their day, have marks too obtrusive to be mistaken.

The figure on the dexter side of the escutcheon is shewn, by an eye in the head of his cane, to be the celebrated Chevalier John Taylor, in whose marvellous History, written by himself, and published in 1761, are recorded such extraordinary events as have excited more astonishment than the Arabian Nights, or the Travels of Sir John Mandeville.

On the sinister side, we behold Dr. Joshua Ward, generally known by the appellation of "Spot Ward," his left cheek having been marked with a claret colour. This gentleman was of a respectable family, and had talents superior to either of his Coadjutors. Dr. Ward distributed his medicine and advice to the poor gratis, by which he acquired great popularity. He died in December 1761, at a very advanced age.

The figure in the centre, with a bone in the right hand, which the Painter denominates a baton, is designed for Mrs. Mapp, a masculine woman, daughter to one Wallin, a bone-setter, at Hindon, in Wiltshire. This female, incompatible as it may seem with her sex, adopting her fathers profession, travelled about the country, under the denomination of "Crazy Sally;" and, like another Hercules, did wonders by strength of arm! Though many unkind expressions were thrown out against her by her medical brethren, she was supposed to be entitled to as much professional praise as those who dared to censure her; for not more than nineteen out of twenty of her Patients died under her hands. It may be proper, however, to add, that this Harlequin figure has been supposed to be intended for Sir Hans Sloane.

For the Chief, this will be sufficient; and with regard to the other Quack heads, and Cane heads, Or, consultant, united with the cross-bones at the corners, they have a most mortuary appearance, and convey a significant idea of a general image of Death.

In the time of Hogarth, Medicine was a mystery, and there were three things which distinguished the Physician: his gravity, his cane head, and his periwig. With these leading requisites this venerable party are most amply gifted.

One of them is said to have been intended for Dr. Pierce Dod, Physician to St. Bartholomew's Hospital, who died August 6, 1754.

Another is supposed to represent Dr. Bamber, a celebrated Anatomist, Physician, and Accoucheur; to whose estate the present Gascoyne family succeeded, and whose surname two of them received at the font.

This Plate is illustrated by the Engraver with a humourous description of  "The Undertakers' Arms."

 
 
 
Mise à jour le 27 juin 2014
Créé le 21 février 2013
ISSN 2107-7029
DGESCO Clé des Langues