WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Heart’s Ease

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Heart’s Ease

After marriage, dissolution, and prostitution, William Hogarth turned his jaundiced eye toward poverty; specifically, the slums of St. Giles. As did Sir John Gonson, whom we met in one of my posts about A Harlot’s Progress, feverishly attempting to clean up the sexual sins of Covent Garden. It seems the Justice now had a passion to prosecute those with a new fever – gin.

The “Gin Craze,” as it was called, nearly destroyed London in the first half of the 18th century. The “slow but sure poyson” was robbing Londoners of all manner of wisdom and reliability to maintain even the most basic activities of daily living. William Hogarth’s print Gin Lane, circa 1750-51, marked the beginning of the end of the period, but illustrated every evil and ill about it. The central figure of the woman so bewitched by gin that she’s driven to prostitution and condemned by syphilis, letting her baby fall to his death, shocked the world as much then as it does now – but it was not artistic license. It was shocking, horrid, reality.

In 1734, mother and gin addict Judith Dufour took back custody of her two-year-old child from a workhouse, then promptly strangled the child so as to sell its new set of clothes to be able to buy gin. Another woman, Mary Estwick, let a toddler burn to death while she lay passed out from gin.

And where were the men? A little further down the stairwell; that is, not even making it home, lying in fermenting stupors in gutters and alleys, or locked away in prison.

Heart’s Ease

Gin.

Gin Lane, William Hogarth, 1750-51, British Museum.

From the British Museum description:

A scene of urban desolation with gin-crazed Londoners, notably a woman who lets her child fall to its death and an emaciated ballad-seller; in the background is the tower of St George’s Bloomsbury; in this state, the child’s face has been changed so that the face is wizened and the eyes sunken.

From the Wikipedia description:

Other images of despair and madness fill the scene: a lunatic cavorts in the street beating himself over the head with a pair of bellows while holding a baby impaled on a spike—the dead child’s frantic mother rushes from the house screaming in horror; a barber has taken his own life in the dilapidated attic of his barber-shop, ruined because nobody can afford a haircut or shave; on the steps, below the woman who has let her baby fall, a skeletal pamphlet-seller rests, perhaps dead of starvation, as the unsold moralising pamphlet on the evils of gin-drinking, The Downfall of Mrs Gin, slips from his basket. An ex-soldier, he has pawned most of his clothes to buy the gin in his basket, next to the pamphlet that denounces it. Next to him sits a black dog, a symbol of despair and depression. Outside the distiller a fight has broken out, and a crazed cripple raises his crutch to strike his blind compatriot.

Images of children on the path to destruction also litter the scene: aside from the dead baby on the spike and the child falling to its death, a baby is quieted by its mother with a cup of gin, and in the background of the scene an orphaned infant bawls naked on the floor as the body of its mother is loaded into a coffin on orders of the beadle. Two young girls who are wards of the parish of St Giles—indicated by the badge on the arm of one of the girls—each take a glass. In front of the pawnbroker’s door a starving boy and a dog fight over a bone, while next to them a girl has fallen asleep; approaching her is a snail, emblematic of the sin of sloth.

In the distance the church of St. George’s Church, Bloomsbury is seen, but only faintly, and the picture is composed so the pawnbroker’s sign forms a huge corrupted cross for the steeple: the people of Gin Lane choose to worship elsewhere.

This poem accompanied the original issuance of the print:

Gin, cursed Fiend, with Fury fraught,
   Makes human Race a Prey.
It enters by a deadly Draught
   And steals our Life away.
Virtue and Truth, driv’n to Despair
   Its Rage compells to fly,
But cherishes with hellish Care
   Theft, Murder, Perjury.
Damned Cup! that on the Vitals preys
   That liquid Fire contains,
Which Madness to the heart conveys,
   And rolls it thro’ the Veins.

 

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WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Ace of Spades

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Ace of Spades

Blindsided.

Gutted.

Marriage à-la-mode did not end the way I thought it would. No wonder these paintings were not received as well as his others. This series is full-on tragedy. What began as satire, for me, quickly spiraled into pure devastation. That poor child has a spot on his face, and we all know what that means. Only the dog is having a good day.

Marriage à-la-mode, a series of six pictures painted by William Hogarth between 1743 and 1745, are in the permanent collection of the National Gallery.

Ace of Spades

A widow.

Marriage à-la-mode: 6, The Lady’s Death (The Suicide of the Countess), by William Hogarth, 1743, National Gallery.

From the Wikipedia description:

Finally, in the sixth painting, The Lady’s Death (the name on its frame), called The Suicide of the Countess by Hogarth, the countess poisons herself in her grief and poverty-stricken widowhood, after her lover is hanged at Tyburn for murdering her husband. An old woman carrying her baby allows the child to give her a kiss, but the mark on the child’s cheek and the caliper on her leg suggest that disease has been passed onto the next generation. The countess’s father, whose miserly lifestyle is evident in the bare house, removes the wedding ring from her finger.

 

Dat father tho – once a cit, always a cit. The Bingley sisters may have been right after all, for all that they were barely fronting their one-generation-removed status.

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Capricornified

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Capricornified

Paging Dr. Phil, the Georgian era Dr. Phil. Or better yet, Steve Harvey. He’s pretty much the take-no-prisoners kind of non-certified therapist that this poor couple needs.

Unlike the past two Hogarth series I’ve profiled (A Rake’s Progress and A Harlot’s Progress), I’ve not looked at this series in its entirety. I’m looking at each painting as I write each post, which seems unheard of in this day of binge-watching entire seasons of shows, courtesy the Netflix-syndrome. I’m not sure if this couple will go the route of typical aristos and ignore each other, he with his mercury and she with her -ew, how bougee- lawyer, or if the newly minted Earl hubs will get airs and banish his Countess.

One thing is definite, by Hogarth’s Hand, and that is, the Countess has evidently given as good as her Earl. I feel like the number of horns in the painting alone qualifies this as a precursor to a Highlights magazine hidden pictures puzzle.

Hopefully minus the syphilis.

Capricornified

Cuckolded, hornified.

Marriage à-la-mode: 4, The Toilette (The Countess’s Morning Levee), by William Hogarth, 1743, National Gallery.

From the Wikipedia description:

In the fourth, The Toilette (the name on its frame), called The Countess’s Morning Levee by Hogarth, the old earl has died, so the son is now the new earl and his wife is the countess. The countess sits with her back to her guests, oblivious to them, as a servant attends to her toilette (grooming). The lawyer Silvertongue from the first painting is reclining next to the countess, suggesting the existence of an affair. This point is underlined by the child in front of the pair, pointing to the horns on the statue of Actaeon, a symbol of cuckoldry. Paintings in the background include the biblical story of Lot and his daughters, Jupiter and Io, and the rape of Ganymede. The Actaeon and several other figurines are seen marked for auction. Such paintings show the African, presumed to be untamed fetish-worshipper and hunter, now fashioned into an icon of courtly style.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Nimgimmer

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Nimgimmer

Well, that escalated quickly.

Remember that time your typical society marriage was all beer and skittles, and you each went your married way, until your husband dandled a prostitute with an open sore on her mouth on his “knee.” The next thing you know, it’s mercury pills and trips to the doctor.

Yeah, that time. Oh, to have been a young Georgian lady with a father looking to marry her off to any young heir to an Earldom. Lud.

This is the third portrait in Marriage à-la-mode, a series of six pictures painted by William Hogarth between 1743 and 1745. The series is in the permanent collection of the National Gallery. It’s time to visit the doctor this week…although the curator of the National Gallery’s exhibition has doubts about just whose interests the physician in this portrait is serving.

Nimgimmer

A physician or surgeon, particularly those who cure the venereal disease.

Marriage à-la-mode: 3, The Inspection (The Visit to the Quack Doctor), by William Hogarth, 1743, National Gallery.

From the Wikipedia description:

The third in the series, The Inspection (the name on its frame), called The Visit to the Quack Doctor by Hogarth, shows the viscount (the earl’s son) visiting a quack with a young prostitute. According to one interpretation, the viscount, unhappy with the mercury pills meant to cure his syphilis, demands a refund while the young prostitute next to him dabs an open sore on her mouth, an early sign of syphilis. But according to the analysis of Judy Egerton, the curator of the National Gallery’s exhibition, the interpretation is very different: The viscount has brought the child to the doctor because he believes he has infected her with syphilis. The woman with the knife is the girl’s mother, feigning anger in order to blackmail the viscount, who is being set up. The child already had the disease when her mother sold her to him, either because he was not her first “protector” or because she inherited the illness from her syphilitic father, who is the quack doctor.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Noozed

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Noozed

And just like that, in the space between two paintings, the shine has worn off and our married couple are fully in the throes of “the honeymoon is over.”

If it had ever really begun.

This is, after all, the marriage between two parties for the purposes of furthering family names, growing estate holdings, and/or enlarging coffers.

Marriage à-la-mode, a series of six pictures painted by William Hogarth between 1743 and 1745, are in the permanent collection of the National Gallery.

Noozed

Married, hanged.

Marriage à-la-mode: 2, The Tête à Tête (Shortly After the Marriage), by William Hogarth, 1743, National Gallery.

From the Wikipedia description:

In the second, The Tête à Tête (the name on its frame), called Shortly After the Marriage, there are signs that the marriage has already begun to break down. The husband and wife appear uninterested in one another, amidst evidence of their separate overindulgences the night before. A small dog finds a lady’s cap in the husband’s coat pocket, indicating his adulterous ventures. A broken sword at his feet shows that he has been in a fight. The open posture of the wife also indicates unfaithfulness. As Hogarth once noted: “A lock of hair falling thus cross the temples … has an effect too alluring to be strictly decent, as is very well known to the loose and lowest class of women.” The disarray of the house and the servant holding a stack of unpaid bills shows that the affairs of the household are a mess.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Touched

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Touched

The final painting of A Rake’s Progress – Plate 8 – In the Madhouse, is the sad ending to William Hogarth’s storyboard of art work. Tom is now of unsound mind, financially destitute, and a spectacle for both medical professionals and the bored elite.

While Bethlem Royal Hospital today is a state-of-the-art medical establishment for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, its history is much more sordid. Tom Rakewell would have dealt with the Monro family, who controlled the hospital for a total of 125 years, beginning in 1728. Under their watch, Bedlam, as the hospital came to be known, was a place where patient treatment consisted of frequent beatings, malnourishment to starvation, and ice baths to induce a return to sanity. When funds ran low for these so-called curatives ran low, the hospital opened its doors to family visitation; they generally declined to come. Instead, the scheme drew wealthy women touring what amounted to cruel entertainment in the form of everything from chained patients experiencing their “treatments,” to ill and abused patients wandering the halls and grounds.

The paintings of A Rake’s Progress are in the collection of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and are considered part of the public domain.

Touched

Insane, crazy. Touched in the head.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 8 – In the Madhouse by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

From the Wikipedia description:

Finally insane and violent, in the eighth painting he ends his days in Bethlem Hospital (Bedlam), London’s infamous mental asylum. Only Sarah Young is there to comfort him, but Rakewell continues to ignore her. While some of the details in these pictures may appear disturbing to 21st-century eyes, they were commonplace in Hogarth’s day. For example, the fashionably dressed women in this last painting have come to the asylum as a social occasion, to be entertained by the bizarre antics of the inmates.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 8 – In the Madhouse (Engraving) by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

 

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Boarding School

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Boarding School

This week it’s the penultimate plate of A Rake’s Progress: Plate 7 – The Prison Scene. Tom has officially reached the end of his rope without reaching the end of His Majesty’s rope…as of yet. And he’s receiving a whole new kind of education at this institution.

The paintings of A Rake’s Progress are in the collection of Sir John Soane’s Museum, London, and are considered part of the public domain.

Boarding School

Bridewell, Newgate, or any other prison, or house of correction.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 7 – The Prison Scene (Engraving) by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

From the Wikipedia description:

All is lost by the seventh painting, and Tom is incarcerated in the notorious Fleet debtors’ prison. He ignores the distress of both his angry new wife and faithful Sarah, who cannot help him this time. Both the beer-boy and jailer demand money from him. Tom begins to go mad, as indicated by both a telescope for celestial observation poking out of the barred window (an apparent reference to the Longitude rewards offered by the British government) and an alchemy experiment in the background. Beside Tom is a rejected play; another inmate is writing a pamphlet on how to solve the national debt. Above the bed at right is an apparatus for wings, which is more clearly seen in the engraved version at the left.

A Rake’s Progress – Plate 7 – The Prison Scene by William Hogarth, 1735, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Public Domain.

Between Plates 6 and 7, I’m pleased to note Tom has found his periwig, at least, and replaced it upon his nog.

Next week we wrap up our visit to Soane’s Museum and our tour of A Rake’s Progress.

 

Slang term taken from the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue.