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Beer Street

William Hogarth

European Art

William Hogarth was an artist who greatly expanded the market for his work by translating many of his paintings into engravings, a technique he learned as a teenager while apprenticed to a silversmith. He specialized in comic or satiric subjects treated in series of images, in which the narrative unfolded like scenes in a novel, then an emerging art form.

Hogarth believed popular art could effect social change, and his images frequently offer prescriptive commentary on the manners and mores of London’s inhabitants. In these two companion images, he reacted to a dangerous surge in gin consumption among the lower classes, illustrating how unregulated sales of the “cursed fiend” gin exacerbated poverty, criminality, and amoral behavior (with a “bad mother” as the central figure), while drinking beer “can sinewy strength impart,” as the moralizing captions proclaim.
MEDIUM Engraving on laid paper
DATES 1751
DIMENSIONS Image: 15 3/8 × 12 13/16 in. (39.1 × 32.5 cm) sheet: 15 3/4 × 13 3/16 in. (40 × 33.5 cm)  (show scale)
INSCRIPTIONS Title is printed in the impression and above the image: "Beer Street"
CREDIT LINE Bequest of Samuel E. Haslett
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CAPTION William Hogarth (British, 1697–1764). Beer Street, 1751. Engraving on laid paper, Image: 15 3/8 × 12 13/16 in. (39.1 × 32.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Bequest of Samuel E. Haslett, 22.1867 (Photo: , 22.1867_PS9.jpg)
IMAGE overall, 22.1867_PS9.jpg., 2019
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RIGHTS STATEMENT No known copyright restrictions
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