William Hogarth, Beer Street

Beer Street, 1 February 1751

William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)

RA Collection: Art

This print was published as a pair with Gin Lane and contrasted the health and productivity benefits of drinking beer with the vice of gin drinking. At the time the prints were made gin was drunk in great quantities in England, and the Gin Act of 1751 reduced the number of gin shops and greatly increased the tax on importing gin amongst other measures to curtail consumption. The verses beneath the images on both prints were written by Hogarth's friend, the Rev. James Townley. The original copperplates are now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

As for other prints which he saw as having a specific educational function (such as the set Industry and Idleness) Hogarth aimed the prints at the popular, rather than fine art market, stating in his prospectus for the prints that: 'As the Subjects of those Prints are calculated to reform some reigning Vices peculiar to the lower Class of People in hopes to render them of more extensive Use, the Author has published them in the cheapest Manner possible'. As a result the line in these prints is thicker and less sophisticated than in other prints engraved by Hogarth, both to enable the printing of more impressions without significant loss of quality, and to approach the characteristic style of popular prints.

This is an early impression, printed in 1751- later impressions (published in 1759 and thereafter) are easy to identify- in these impressions the Frenchman lifted into the air by a blacksmith on the left has been replaced by a shoulder of mutton!

Object details

Beer Street
William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)
Published by
William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)
1 February 1751
Object type
Place of Publication
Etching and engraving

348 mm x 298 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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