The lottery.

[London], [n.p.], [after 1751].

Single sheet etching and engraving plus an explanation (383 x 290 mm), even light browning, else in very good condition, with the publication line erased from the plate; unmounted.


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Ninth state of nine, the first dated to 1724, of this fine Hogarth engraving satirising the Lottery. The allegory of the print is explained by the caption:

The Explanation. 1. Upon the Pedestal National Credit leaning on a Pillar supported by Justice. 2. Apollo shewing Britannia a Picture representing the Earth receiving enriching Showers drawn from her self (an Emblem of State Lottery’s). 3. Fortune Drawing the Blanks and Prizes. 4. Wantoness Drawing ye Numbrs. 5. Before the Pedestal Suspence turn’d to & fro by Hope & Fear. 6. On one hand, Good Luck, being Elevated is seized by Pleasure & Folly; Fame perswading him to raise sinking Virtue, Arts &c. 7. On ye other hand Misfortune opprest by Grief, Minerva supporting him, points to the Sweets of Industry. 8. Sloth hiding his head in ye Curtain: 9. On ye other side, Avarice hugging his Mony. 10. Fraud tempting Despair wth Mony at a Trap-door in the Pedestal.

‘In general, Hogarth is utilizing his Ripa (Iconologia) here, but also the tradition of history painting. The philosopher derives from Heraclitus, as does Pleasure from Diogenes, in Raphael’s School of Athens (Antal, p. 81). Indeed Hogarth’s whole composition parodies that celebrated painting, widely distributed in engraved copies; he uses the School of Athens as the basis for the arrangement of his figures on the lower level, but for the figures on the stage he recalls the heavenly configuration around Christ in the Disputa. The figures of Fortune and Wantonness, one naked and one clothed, were probably suggested by the niched statues above the heads of the philosophers in School of Athens. Hogarth’s most striking innovation was to make his setting a stage and his emblematic tableau a theatrical pantomime, with Apollo, Britannia, and the usual crew to be found in Smithfield or Rich pantomimes’ (Paulson, p. 51).

British Museum Satires 1730; Paulson 53 (9).

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