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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