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Hogarth is known for his satirical views of contemporary subjects. He visited France in 1748 and while sketching the fortifications at Calais was suspected of spying and arrested, as shown far left. Hogarth represents the French by a rabble of scrawny soldiers and a fat friar, salivating over the haunch of beef imported for the British tourists. Hogarth contrasts France implicitly with an England where all eat roast beef and not soupe maigre (watery soup). The ‘Old England’ of the title alludes to an idea of an England when kings protected their people against unjust masters and all lived in harmony and prosperity; again, in contrast to France.

February 2016