Hogarth's Political Influence

Thanks to the works of William Hogarth, literary figures were no longer the only ones having a voice about the British government.

"Hogarth was one of the first graphic artists to thoroughly explore the potential of print media as a means of political commentary. His prints influenced public opinion and stand as documents of his engagement with issues such as economics, domestic affairs, and international politics. The unpopularity of some of Hogarth's positions is also reflected in a number of satirical prints directed against him," from the Northwestern Library Research.12

Hogarth criticizes the public and the popularity of investing in the stock market with his etching entitled An Emblematic Print on the South Sea Scene. This scene is set to take place just before the stock market crash of 1720. The South Sea Company enticed many middle-class people to invest in the market in order to make quick money. Also, if one looks closely at the message inscribed on the side of the building-which originally read "This monument was erected in memory of the destruction of the city by the Great Fire in 1666"- has been altered to read "This monument was erected in memory of the destruction of the city by South Sea in 1720." 13

As a companion piece to the South Sea Scene, Hogarth created The Lottery. In this piece Hogarth attempted to criticize the government for using the lottery as a way to raise money. The curtains surrounding the piece gives the illusion that the scene is taking place on a stage. On this stage the allegorical figures of virtue and vise are putting on a show. 14


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