Back to the main Tate Website
Constable's Haywain and My Dad's Love of Gardening 1800-2000

A convict at this time was stripped, shaven and sentenced to penal servitude, not imprisonment, and spent the first nine months of their sentence in solitary confinement. Before the birth of the prisons, punishment was an open display of power: public executions, floggings, disembowelling etc. The worry in the early nineteeth centuary was that such overt displays had become a source of contention to the mob and public order was threatened in various ways. Parliament detached punishment from the public gaze and into prisons. Middle class society at this time increasingly condemns the poor as products of their own low and immoral natures.