WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Ottomised

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Ottomised

This week, the final panel is brought to you by the letters ‘G’ for gruesome and ‘I’ for ick.

Tom Nero’s crimes have not paid, but he has, and has been hanged for all his cruelty and machinations. We see him splayed on an anatomist’s table, grimace permanently plastered on his face, fingers pointing to his own bones now on display for the students and surgeons. He’s lost an eye, just as he did to his horse, and a dog under the table gets a little revenge for his maligned cousins from the first panel.

In the words of the introductory song by Count Orloff in a Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, “Look Away.”

Ottomised

To be ottomised; to be dissected. You’ll be scragged, ottomised, and grin in a glass case: you’ll be hanged, anatomised, and your skeleton kept in a glass case at Surgeons’ Hall.

The Fourth Stage of Cruelty: The Reward of Cruelty, by William Hogarth, 1751, Public Domain.

From the Wikipedia description:

Having been tried and found guilty of murder, Nero has now been hanged and his body taken for the ignominious process of public dissection. The year after the prints were issued, the Murder Act 1752 would ensure that the bodies of murderers could be delivered to the surgeons so they could be “dissected and anatomised”. It was hoped this further punishment on the body and denial of burial would act as a deterrent. At the time Hogarth made the engravings, this right was not enshrined in law, but the surgeons still removed bodies when they could.

A tattoo on his arm identifies Tom Nero, and the rope still around his neck shows his method of execution. The dissectors, their hearts hardened after years of working with cadavers, are shown to have as much feeling for the body as Nero had for his victims; his eye is put out just as his horse’s was, and a dog feeds on his heart, taking a poetic revenge for the torture inflicted on one of its kind in the first plate. Nero’s face appears contorted in agony and although this depiction is not realistic, Hogarth meant it to heighten the fear for the audience. Just as his murdered mistress’s finger pointed to Nero’s destiny in Cruelty in Perfection, in this print Nero’s finger points to the boiled bones being prepared for display, indicating his ultimate fate.

While the surgeons working on the body are observed by the mortar-boarded academics in the front row, the physicians, who can be identified by their wigs and canes, largely ignore the dissection and consult among themselves. The president has been identified as John Freke, president of the Royal College of Surgeons at the time. Freke had been involved in the high-profile attempt to secure the body of condemned rioter Bosavern Penlez for dissection in 1749. Aside from the over-enthusiastic dissection of the body and the boiling of the bones in situ, the image portrays the procedure as it would have been carried out.

Two skeletons to the rear left and right of the print are labelled as James Field, a well-known boxer who also featured on a poster in the second plate, and Macleane, an infamous highwayman. Both men were hanged shortly before the print was published (Macleane in 1750 and Field in 1751). The skeletons seemingly point to one another. Field’s name above the skeleton on the left may have been a last minute substitution for “GENTL HARRY” referring to Henry Simms, also known as Young Gentleman Harry. Simms was a robber who was executed in 1747. The motif of the lone “good man” is carried through to this final plate, where one of the academics points at the skeleton of James Field, indicating the inevitable outcome for those who start down the path of cruelty.

The composition of the scene is a pastiche of the frontispiece of Andreas Vesalius’s De humani corporis fabrica, and it possibly also borrows from Quack Physicians’ Hall (c. 1730) by the Dutch artist Egbert van Heemskerck, who had lived in England and whose work Hogarth admired.[22] An earlier source of inspiration may have been a woodcut in the 1495 Fasciculo di medicina by Johannes de Ketham which, although simpler, has many of the same elements, including the seated president flanked by two windows.

Fasiculo de Medicina, Venice, 1495, by Johannes de Ketham, Wikipedia Commons.

Below the print are these final words:

Moral accompanying The Fourth Stage of Cruelty: The Reward of Cruelty, by William Hogarth, 1751, Public Domain.

From the Tate Museum description:

As a piece of propaganda, this macabre image was calculated to deromanticise criminality and its consequences. It takes place in the Cutlerian theatre near Newgate prison.

Nero has been hanged at Tyburn and, as was the case with other executed criminals, his body is being dissected for the purpose of studying anatomy. The chief surgeon sits in the centre on a high-backed chair with the royal coat of arms hanging above, thus resembling a high court judge. This neatly represents the official process of judgement and punishment, which in the case of hanged criminals could extend beyond death itself.

The skeletons of dissected criminals were usually refused a Christian burial and subsequently displayed as specimens, as can be seen in the niches to the left and right.

 

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

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Mumble a Sparrow

WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Mumble a Sparrow

Today’s post is rather grim, so please consider yourself warned. The subject is animal cruelty; while I won’t go into detail here in my introduction, I will include the explicit descriptions of the subject matter of the engraving below.

Over the next four weeks, I’m looking at William Hogarth’s Four Stages of Cruelty, and cruel they are. Hogarth was known for his realistic portrayals of life: A Harlot’s Progress and prostitution; A Rake’s Progress and the reckless living of the idle rich; Marriage A-la-Mode and a union of convenience; Gin Lane and drinking. The Four Stages of Cruelty portrayed man’s inhumanity against anything and everything. It is rough-going, and life and its most stripped-bare.

Mumble a Sparrow

A cruel sport practised at wakes and fairs, in the following manner: A cock sparrow whose wings are clipped, is put into the crown of a hat; a man having his arms tied behind him, attempts to bite off the sparrow’s head, but is generally obliged to desist, by the many pecks and pinches he receives from the enraged bird.

The First Stage of Cruelty: Children Torturing Animals, by William Hogarth, 1751, Yale Center for British Art.

From the Wikipedia description:

In the first print Hogarth introduces Tom Nero, whose surname may have been inspired by the Roman Emperor of the same name or a contraction of “No hero”. Conspicuous in the centre of the plate, he is shown being assisted by other boys to insert an arrow into a dog’s rectum, a torture apparently inspired by a devil punishing a sinner in Jacques Callot’s Temptation of St. Anthony. An initialed badge on the shoulder of his light-hued and ragged coat shows him to be a pupil of the charity school of the parish of St Giles. Hogarth used this notorious slum area as the background for many of his works including Gin Lane and Noon, part of the Four Times of the Day series. A more tender-hearted boy, perhaps the dog’s owner, pleads with Nero to stop tormenting the frightened animal, even offering food in an attempt to appease him. This boy supposedly represents a young George III. His appearance is deliberately more pleasing than the scowling ugly ruffians that populate the rest of the picture, made clear in the text at the bottom of the scene:

While various Scenes of sportive Woe,
The Infant Race employ,
And tortur’d Victims bleeding shew,
The Tyrant in the Boy.

Behold! a Youth of gentler Heart,
To spare the Creature’s pain,
O take, he cries—take all my Tart,
But Tears and Tart are vain.
Learn from this fair Example—You
Whom savage Sports delight,
How Cruelty disgusts the view,
While Pity charms the sight.

The other boys carry out equally barbaric acts: the two boys at the top of the steps are burning the eyes out of a bird with a hot needle heated by the link-boy’s torch; the boys in the foreground are throwing at a cock (perhaps an allusion to a nationalistic enmity towards the French, and a suggestion that the action takes place on Shrove Tuesday, the traditional day for cock-shying); another boy ties a bone to a dog’s tail—tempting, but out of reach; a pair of fighting cats are hung by their tails and taunted by a jeering group of boys; in the bottom left-hand corner a dog is set on a cat, with the latter’s intestines spilling out onto the ground; and in the rear of the picture another cat tied to two bladders is thrown from a high window. In a foreshadowing of his ultimate fate, Tom Nero’s name is written under the chalk drawing of a man hanging from the gallows; the meaning is made clear by the schoolboy artist pointing towards Tom. The absence of parish officers who should be controlling the boys is an intentional rebuke on Hogarth’s part; he agreed with Henry Fielding that one of the causes for the rising crime rate was the lack of care from the overseers of the poor, who were too often interested in the posts only for the social status and monetary rewards they could bring.

Below the text the authorship is established: Designed by W. Hogarth, Published according to Act of Parliament. 1 Feb. 1751 The Act of Parliament referred to is the Engraving Copyright Act 1734. Many of Hogarth’s earlier works had been reproduced in great numbers without his authority or any payment of royalties, and he was keen to protect his artistic property, so had encouraged his friends in Parliament to pass a law to protect the rights of engravers. Hogarth had been so instrumental in pushing the Bill through Parliament that on passing it became known as the “Hogarth Act”.

From the Tate Museum description:

This street scene shows a group of youths, almost all of whom are participating in or encouraging the abuse of animals and birds. Boys are seen tying a bone to a dog’s tail, cauterising the eyes of a bird, stringing up kittens from a signpost or cockfighting.

The worst abuse is being inflicted by Nero, who pushes an arrow into the anus of a terrified dog being restrained by two other boys. Another youth is distressed by what Nero is doing and attempts to stop him by offering a tart. To the left of Nero, a boy draws a hanged man on the wall and points at him, underlining the inevitable: that Nero’s behaviour will deteriorate further and cost him his life.

 

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