Hogarth, W. Gin Lane

This print by William Hogarth was produced in 1751, a piece of visual propaganda to support the passage of a piece of legislation to control the supply of gin. (It’s companion piece is ‘Beer Street’ a much more positive image of the impact of ‘honest ale’). In this image we see babies dropped to their death, impaled on a spike by a madman, fed gin to quiet them – all as a consequence of ‘mother’s ruin’. Hogarth is a fascinating artist with a fantastic eye for hypocrisy and cant, his work  contains a wealth of references to health and medicine.

This Day are publish’d, Price 1 s. each.
Two large Prints, design’d and etch’d by Mr. Hogarth called
BEER-STREET and GIN-LANE
A Number will be printed in a better Manner for the Curious, at 1s. 6d. each.
And on Thursday following will be publish’d four Prints on the Subject of Cruelty,
Price and Size the same.
N.B. As the Subjects of these Prints are calculated to
reform some reigning Vices peculiar to the lower Class of People, in hopes to render
them of more extensive use, the Author has published them in the cheapest Manner
possible.
To be had at the Golden Head in Leicester-Fields, Where may be had all
his other Works.

© Trustees of the British Museum

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