William Hogarth, An Election Entertainment (Four Prints of an Election, plate 1)

An Election Entertainment (Four Prints of an Election, plate 1), 1755

William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)

RA Collection: Art

Engraving after the first of William Hogarth's paintings The Humours of an Election (1754-5), his last painted cycle addressing current affairs. The paintings are now in Sir John Soane's Museum, London, alongside another of Hogarth's celebrated cycles, A Rake's Progress.

The Humours of an Election was inspired by the notorious Oxfordshire election of 1754, in which the Whigs decided to challenge the Tory stronghold of Oxford by contesting the election, leading to a disputed result and Parliament deciding on the winner (the Whig majority in the House of Commons backing their own candidate). Hogarth depicts the four 'humours' of an election, beginning with this scene set in the private room of an inn, shows Whig election candidates gathering the support of town grandees and citizens. Hogarth dedicated the print to his long-standing patron Henry Fox, later Lord Holland.

Unlike the other three engravings in the series, An Election Entertainment (which Paulson describes as 'Hogarth's most complex and worked-over engraving') does not reverse the painting, as was usually the case when Hogarth made engravings from his own work. Rather it replicates the composition of the painting-- a more complex task as in order to do this Hogarth had to reverse the painting when engraving the plate so that the resulting print would face in the same direction as the painting.

This is from the third state of the print. Paulson argues that this state, along with the second state, were issued to subscribers to the series (Paulson notes that William Hunter, a subscriber, received a third state impression). Paulson also believes that theere was a time gap between these states and the remaining five states of the plate 'which seem to follow each other in rapid succession', perhaps after the other plates in the series were completed in 1758.

Part of an album of Hogarth's prints whose contents are described as 'chiefly first, and all fine impressions'.

Object details

An Election Entertainment (Four Prints of an Election, plate 1)
William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)
Object type

405 mm x 540 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
This image is from a book

Hogarth's prints. Vol. I. - [s.l.]: [n.d.]

Click here to view the book

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