Thursday, December 24, 2009

Social Change through Graphic Satire

Hogarth's Gin Lane (1751) is a satire on rampant gin consumption and its devastating effects on London’s working-class poor. Hogarth believed he could help reform the drinking habits of the poor by revealing the negative effects of their gin addiction. He designed this illustration to aid the anti-gin campaign that sought to galvanize support for a bill that would impose significant restrictions on the consumption and sales of cheap gin. These efforts eventually lead to the passage of the Gin Act of 1751, a legislative bill that helped to decrease gin consumption by doubling the tax on Gin and prohibiting its distribution to unlicensed merchants.

William Hogarth (1697–1764) is considered one the most influential British graphic satirists of the eighteenth century. Although Hogarth was a highly reputable painter, his better-known work consisted of prints made through the medium of copper-plate engravings. His popular prints satirized the follies of the rich, as well as the societal and economic inequities confronting the poor.

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