Hogarth (William)

An emblematic print on the South Sea,


London, Baldwin, Cradock & Joy, 1822.
a comprehensive satire on the bursting of the South Sea Bubble, in 1720, and the toll that such dangerously wild speculation on the stock market had taken both on innumerable individuals’ personal fortunes and on wider society’s morals. Set in the heart of the City of London, with the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral in the background, we see foxes running wild around the base of the Monument, on the right and now dedicated to the Destruction of the City by the South Sea, at the foot of which the figure of Vilany flogs that of Honour, and in the foreground the figure of Self Interest breaks the bones of Honesty tied to a catherine wheel, on the left three religious figures representing the Puritan, Roman Catholic and Jewish fatihs squat in a circle, gambling, next to a stage where the Devil holds the scythe of Father Time and slices flesh from the haunches of the figure of Fortune, which he throws to crowd assembled in front. In the middle distance stands a large merry-go-round being turned by directors of the South Sea Company while various figures including a prostitute and a clergyman ride above, next to a large building where women queue up an external staircase to a door below a sign promoting ‘Raffleing for Husbands with Lottery Fortunes in Here’.

First issued around 1721, this is from the early 19th century edition from the original plates, restored by James Heath, not to be confused with those re-engraved by Thomas Cook in the same period,.

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