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William Hogarth
An Election Entertainment (Print)

An Election Entertainment (Print) by William Hogarth at The Illustration Art Gallery

Ref: Hogarth1 (Click for LARGE picture)

Artist: William Hogarth (biography)
Medium: Lithograph print on Paper
Size: 24" x 18" (610mm x 450mm)
Date: 1975

This is a print.

An Election Entertainment depicts a tavern dinner organised by the Whig candidates, while the Tories protest outside. The Tories are carrying an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew, a reference to recent legislation passed by the Whig government which allowed greater freedom to Jews. A banner containing the words "Give us our Eleven days", a protest against the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, which was carried by the Tories, is on the tavern floor.

In the tavern the two Whig candidates are ingratiating themselves with supporters. One candidate is kissing an ugly pregnant woman; the other is listening to a drunken bore. At the other end of the table the Mayor is collapsing from over indulgence in oysters, while the Election Agent is knocked out by a brick thrown through the window by the Tory mob. Other supporters throw furniture at the Tories. The composition of the scene parodies traditional images of the Last Supper and other Biblical feasts.

This is one of a set of 4 high quality prints produced by Kingfisher. The Humours of an Election, a series of four engravings by William Hogarth that illustrate the election of a Member of Parliament in Oxfordshire in 1754. The oil paintings were created in 1755 and subsequently Hogarth created the engravings.

At this time each constituency elected two MPs, and there was a property qualification for voters, so only a minority of the male population was enfranchised. There was no secret ballot, so bribery and intimidation were rife. However, this traditional view has been questioned by recent historians who observed a lively local political participation in this time.

The original paintings are held by Sir John Soane's Museum, London.

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William Hogarth

William Hogarth