This gallery showcases the huge variety of work that Hogarth engaged in during the final decade of his career, including the celebrated Election series

The last twenty years of Hogarth’s career saw him developing his interest in explicitly patriotic forms of satire. Works such as The Gate of Calais, The March to Finchley and the Invasion prints combine a fierce critique of French society and culture with a humorous but heart-felt defence of English freedom and fortitude. The same period witnessed the artist returning to portraiture, with such dazzling images as his Heads of Six Servants and David Garrick and his Wife. Finally, the Election series that he produced over 1754–5 signalled a new kind of artistic venture on Hogarth’s part, in which he offered a beautifully painted but severe indictment of modern electoral corruption.

This turn to political subject matter became more pronounced with the publication of his print The Times in 1762, which saw Hogarth becoming actively involved in a bitter and personalised war of political images and texts. Largely thanks to this intervention into the field of political satire, Hogarth had become both the most celebrated and most vilified artist in Britain by the time of his death in 1764. It is perhaps no surprise, then, to find that his last work, The Bathos, is also one of his darkest, steeped in melancholy, self-doubt and fatalism. 

Works on display in this room

William Hogarth, 'O the Roast Beef of Old England ('The Gate of Calais')' 1748

William Hogarth
O the Roast Beef of Old England ('The Gate of Calais') 1748
Oil on canvas
support: 788 x 945 mm frame: 1072 x 1228 x 105 mm
Presented by the Duke of Westminster 1895

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William Hogarth
O the Roast Beef of Old England (`The Gate of Calais’) 1748

This painting was inspired by Hogarth’s ill-fated trip to France in 1748. While waiting in Calais for a boat home, he was seized by a French soldier as he sketched the old city gate. Having convinced his captors that he was an artist rather than a secret agent, he was summarily despatched to England. Hogarth expended all his Francophobic vitriol into the creation of this image, which is dominated by an English sirloin steak being slavered over by a gluttonous friar and a pair of half-starved soldiers. Famously, Hogarth inserts a self-portrait into the painting on the left, in which he is shown just on the point of being captured.

William Hogarth
The March to Finchley 1749–50
Oil on canvas
1025 x 1357 mm
The Foundling Museum, London

This good-naturedly satirical scene takes place in 1745, soon after Britain had been invaded by Jacobite troops loyal to ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, the son of the Stuart Pretender to the English/British throne. Hogarth’s painting focuses on a group of guardsmen brought to London to help defend the city from attack. These soldiers are pictured as they gather together at Tottenham Court Turnpike, north of the capital. They have obviously been indulging in a heavy night’s drinking, fighting and whoring. Hogarth seems to suggest that, however riotous their current behaviour, these soldiers will ultimately fall into patriotic line: a well-drilled fighting unit can be seen marching in perfect formation in the distance, complete with resplendent uniforms, readied weapons and the Union Jack flag.

William Hogarth
The Invasion, Plate 1: France (second state) 8 March 1756
Etching and engraving on paper
319 x 390 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

In the months leading up to the outbreak of the Seven Years War in May 1756, the dominant topic of public debate in Britain was the possibility of an invasion by France. Hogarth’s contribution to the substantial body of graphic satires dealing with this topic was this pair of rapidly executed prints, which respectively translate the themes and imagery of O the Roast Beef of Old England and The March to Finchley into a more simplified pictorial form.

In the first print, which pictures the French army gathering on the other side of the channel, we again find the figures of a corrupt friar and a group of scrawny soldiers, and the imagery of subsistence and Catholicism, that dominated Hogarth’s earlier depiction of Calais.

England, meanwhile, offers the same combination of uproarious, obscene revelry and military discipline found in The March to Finchley. In this instance, a group of carousing soldiers and sailors are shown jeering at a crudely caricatured image of the French king painted onto the inn wall.

William Hogarth
The Invasion, Plate 2: England 8 March 1756
Etching and engraving on paper
318 x 384 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

William Hogarth
Heads of Six of Hogarth’s Servants circa 1750–5

William Hogarth, 'Heads of Six of Hogarth's Servants' circa 1750-5

William Hogarth
Heads of Six of Hogarth's Servants circa 1750-5
Oil on canvas
support: 630 x 755 mm frame: 883 x 1009 x 65 mm
Purchased 1892

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In this famous painting Hogarth communicates the particular appearance and character of his household servants whilst simultaneously depicting them as a tightly knit group, unified by their pictorial proximity, by their shared outward gaze, and by their common loyalty to the artist and his family. The canvas offers both an intensely personal and benevolent portrayal of six persons known intimately to the artist, and a kind of pictorial manifesto promoting the qualities of sincerity and deference appropriate for members of a servant class.

William Hogarth
David Garrick and his Wife 1757
Oil on canvas
1326 x 1042 mm
Her Majesty The Queen

This spectacular painting of the celebrated actor and his wife Eva Maria may have been intended to dramatise Hogarth’s re-entry into the market for portrait painting and to act as a direct challenge to the new generation of portraitists, such as Joshua Reynolds, who had risen to prominence over the previous decade. The work showcases Hogarth’s brilliance at painting both men and women, and his renowned ability to introduce a humorous narrative into this most ‘formal’ of painting genres. The ease and elegance conveyed by the portrait are, however, deceptive. The painting seems to have caused Hogarth considerable difficulty and was heavily reworked.

William Hogarth
Francis Matthew Schutz in his bed late 1750s
Oil on canvas
630 x 755 mm
Norwich Castle Musuem & Art Gallery

This extraordinary portrait, in which the third cousin to Frederick, Prince of Wales is pictured vomiting into a chamber-pot whilst lying in bed nursing a hangover, was allegedly commissioned by Schutz’s wife as a means of exhorting him to lead a more temperate existence. Hogarth responded by fusing the language of portraiture with that of satire to create an image that humorous reflects on the inevitable consequences of bad behaviour.

The canvas proved too indecorous in its imagery for Schutz’s Victorian descendants. They hired an artist to paint in a newspaper over the chamber-pot; only a recent programme of restoration returned the painting to its original state.

William Hogarth
Sir Francis Dashwood at his Devotions late 1750s
Oil on canvas
1200 x 876 mm
Private Collection

This deliberately unconventional and scandalous portrait depicts the famous aristocratic libertine Sir Francis Dashwood. The artist’s sitter was involved in a number of aristocratic clubs that promoted the pleasures of sexual freedom, connoisseurship, and paganism. In this portrait, Hogarth playfully parodies Renaissance images showing St Francis at prayer in similarly isolated environments; in contrast, Dashwood is depicted staring devotedly at the mirage of a nude female figure lying seductively in front of his eyes. Meanwhile, the halo above Dashwood’s head contains the satyr-like profile of the aristocrat’s confidante Lord Sandwich, depicted as if whispering into his friend’s ear and sharing his lascivious gaze.

The Election Series

In the early months of 1754, Hogarth was working on what eventually became a set of four paintings and prints dealing with electoral corruption. This subject dominated London’s newspapers and journals because of the General Election of that year and in particular because of the notoriously corrupt election campaign in Oxfordshire. The first of these, An Election Entertainment was put on display just days before the election itself.

In this remarkably rich and complex quartet of pictures, Hogarth shows the various stages of an election campaign in the fictional country town of ‘Guzzledown’. The first scene depicts an electoral feast organised by the Whig party to garner support. Canvassing for Votes, the second scene, is set outside the Royal Oak inn, and focuses on a farmer who is being offered bribes by representatives of both the Tories and theWhigs. The sense of a nation being failed by their political leaders is made even more explicit in the third scene, The Polling, where a broken-down coach, representing Britain itself, has ground to a halt. Meanwhile every available male is being dragged to a polling booth to vote. In the final scene the Tory victory parade is violently interrupted and upset by a riotous cluster of people and animals.

William Hogarth
The Election: 1. An Election Entertainment 1754
Oil on canvas
1010 x 1280 mm
Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

William Hogarth
The Election: 2. Canvassing for Votes 1754
Oil on canvas 1023 x 1314 mm
Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

William Hogarth
The Election: 3. The Polling 1754
Oil on canvas
1022 x 1311 mm
Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

William Hogarth
The Election: 4. Chairing the Members 1754-1755
Oil on canvas
1030 x 1318 mm
Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

William Hogarth
The Times, Plate 1 (third state) 7 September 1763
Etching and engraving on paper
247 x 308 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

Plate 1 combines a pictorial defence of the then prime minister, the Earl of Bute, with a sustained attack on his predecessor William Pitt, Earl of Chatham. Whereas Pitt was associated with an aggressive stance towards Britain’s French and Spanish opponents in the Seven Years’ War, Bute came to power determined to end this victorious but expensive conflict. The chaotic scene of a city on fire allegorises the contemporary state of Europe. Pitt is shown on stilts (he famously wore crutches), fanning the flames of war. The heroic fireman at the centre of the image – representing either Bute or the king himself - is trying to prevent the fire from enveloping the rest of the world, while being fired upon by a trio of men who include Pitt’s journalistic supporters, John Wilkes and Charles Churchill.

William Hogarth
The Times, Plate 2 (first state) 1762–3
Etching and engraving on paper
cut to 254 x 313 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

Plate 2 ostensibly offers a contrasting vision of the war’s peaceful aftermath, dominated by a statue of the King and by the details of replenishment. At the same time, the print also seems to call into question George III’s dependence on a coterie of Scottish courtiers and ministers. For, under the elevated but passive eye of his royal master, Bute is shown operating a pump that supplies water to a series of potted-plants inscribed with the names of fictional Scottish placemen.

William Hogarth
John Wilkes Esq. (first state) 16 May 1763
Etching with engraving on paper
355 x 229 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

Following the publication of The Times Plate 1 (displayed nearby), the journalist John Wilkes had emerged as Hogarth’s fiercest and most influential critic In his journal The North Briton, Wilkes described Hogarth’s engraving of The Times as ‘confus’d, perplex’d and embrarrass’d’. Hogarth responded by producing this searing satirical portrait of the journalist, which is based upon a sketch he made whilst attending Wilkes’s trial for seditious libel in May 1763. The trial had been sparked by an attack on the king made in the forty-fifth edition of The North Briton, which Hogarth depicts lying alongside the issue in which he himself had been criticised.

John Wilkes Esq. depicts the journalist as a squinting, satanic figure, his wig shaped to suggest a pair of devil’s horns, and his slouching, open-legged pose a provocative sign of his notoriously rakish and insubordinate personality. Wilkes is shown having assumed to himself the staff and hat that are the traditional attributes of Britannia, to whom he offers a grotesque, leering antithesis. Hogarth’s image also self-consciously evokes his earlier etched portrait of the Jacobite traitor, Simon Lord Lovat, produced soon before Lovat’s execution for treason in 1747. Wilkes, the artist satirically suggests, deserves a similar fate.

William Hogarth
Simon, Lord Lovat (first state) 25 August 1746
Etching with engraving on paper
363 x 235 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

The Bruiser

This series of images show the artist developing an ever more detailed critique of the clergyman and journalist Charles Churchill, who, following the publication of The Times plate 1 (in which Churchill himself had been attacked) and John Wilkes Esq., had penned a vitriolic poetic assault on the artist. Hogarth responded by turning to the copper plate that already carried his engraved self-portrait entitled Guilelmus Hogarth. He burnished out the details of his own head and shoulders, and replaced them with the depiction of Churchill as a drunken, drooling performing bear, wearing a ripped clerical neck-band, clasping an ale-pot in one paw and an unwieldy club – the club of satire, inscribed with lies and fallacies - in the other. Meanwhile, Hogarth’s pug now comes to stand for the artist himself, contemptuously urinating on a copy of Churchill’s poem. In the later version of the print, shown here, Hogarth introduced what he called a ‘new Petit-Piece’, an engraving within an engraving that shows the artist whipping Churchill – the dancing bear – and Wilkes – the monkey – into line.

William Hogarth
Gulielmus Hogarth (fourth state) 1749
Etching and engraving on paper
381 x 287 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

William Hogarth
The Bruiser, C. Churchill (second state) 1 August 1763
Etching and engraving on paper
337 x 285 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

William Hogarth
The Bruiser, C. Churchill (sixth state) October 1763
Etching and engraving on paper
377 x 285 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

William Hogarth
The Bathos, or Manner of Sinking… 3 March 1764
Etching and engraving on paper
318 x 337 mm
Courtesy Andrew Edmunds, London

This is Hogarth’s final work, published six months before his death. Designed as a tail-piece for bound collections of the artist’s graphic works, the print is dominated by the prone figure of Time, lying with his broken attributes, and surrounded by emblems of mortality. The Bathos ostensibly serves to parody the contemporary fashion for ‘sublime’ forms and subjects in art. At the same time, the print’s doom-laden air seems to express the artist’s own thoughts regarding his and his work’s impending demise, as represented, for example, by the painter’s palette lying abandoned and disfigured in the foreground.