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Portrait of St Franciss Fords Children Giving a Coin To a Beggar Boy, My Ear and mould from the Thames. William Beechy 1793-2000

The democratic education of the mob was an attempt to addict them to the aspirational tastefulness of Victorian Society. For the new social elite, sharing what had previously been private, exposing what had been concealed, became a totem of progressiveness. The Tate, with a more or less free admission policy, surgically removed the decadence and tyranny before offering the morsels of taste generated under previous forms of social control. The museum provides a solution to the social chaos of the street: a site where bodies, constantly under surveillance, could be rendered docile through exposure to Gainsborough, Turner and Hogarth instead of the jailer's whip and bludgeon.