22 October 2014 – 18 January 2015
Compelling images reveal both the vitality and the suffering that characterised life in London 250 years ago.
William Hogarth was a true Londoner. Born in 1697 at Bartholomew Close, he lived just off Smithfield meat market in the City. While this part of the capital was know for its mercantile and financial connections, it was also a hive of poverty and crime. In contrast, the West End was flourishing and its increasingly affluent community of professionals and tradesmen were able to take advantage of the swell of shops, jewellers, theatres, coffee houses and music rooms.
Hogarth captures these two extremes in his work – most famously so in two related prints, Beer Street and Gin Lane. The satirical illustrations play the evils of consuming gin against the merits of drinking beer. As such, the inhabitants of Beer Street appear happy, healthy, wealthy and nourished, where as their Gin Lane counterparts are marred by infanticide, starvation, madness, decay and suicide. Both works are included in this display.