William Hogarth, Charles Mosley
O the Roast Beef of Old England (‘The Gate of Calais’) 1749

Artwork details

William Hogarth 1697–1764
Charles Mosley 1744–c.1770
O the Roast Beef of Old England (‘The Gate of Calais’)
Date 1749
Medium Etching and engraving on paper
Dimensions Image: 432 x 569 mm
Acquisition Presented by Mrs M.L. Hemphill 1984
View this artwork by appointment, at Tate Britain's Prints and Drawings Rooms

Display caption

This was an expensive print at five shillings, elements of which were later used in the Napoleonic wars for army recruitment posters. Much of this influential image ridicules Catholicism. The fisherwomen wearing crucifixes on the left seem to pray to the cheap flat fish in front of them. In the background, through the gate, 'superstitious' locals are kneeling before the Cross, beneath a tavern sign of a dove, symbol of the Holy Ghost, in Hogarth's mockery of the Eucharist. More earthly nourishment, however, comes in the form of the unattainable sirloin of British beef. Hogarth's contempt for the French should be set against his enormous debt to French art and design, evident in much of his work.

August 2004

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