An image of Night

William Hogarth

(England 10 Nov 1697 – 25 or 26 October 1764)

Night, from The four times of the day

Location
Not on display
Further information

In this series, Hogarth, the roving satirist, takes us on a walking tour of contemporary London, exposing the folly and vice of the city’s inhabitants as we move through the districts of Covent Garden, Soho, Islington and Charing Cross over the course of a day. Hogarth’s comic and chaotic series relates to a long-standing (though more conventional) graphic tradition of representing the times of day as well as to the painting tradition of urban topography, which presented more decorous views of the city than Hogarth’s boisterous scenes. The paintings on which Hogarth’s engravings are based were probably commissioned by Jonathan Tyers, proprietor of Vauxhall Gardens, for display in the fashionable amusement park.

'Night' presents a scene near Charing Cross with Le Sueur’s statue of Charles I in the background. The oak branches announce that it is 29 May, the day on which the restoration of Charles II was celebrated. Ironically, the scene is devoid of celebration. In the foreground a drunken freemason, wearing a collar with a square, staggers home supported by a servant. The freemason is traditionally identified as Sir Thomas de Veil, a Westminster magistrate famous for his prosecution of unlicensed gin sellers. Drenched by the contents of a chamber pot, he is oblivious to the chaos around him. A coach has crashed while trying to avoid a bonfire in the middle of the street. In the barber shop the barber-surgeon shaves and squeezes the nose of his customer. The row of dishes on the barber’s sill show the blood drawn from the day’s patients. Beneath the window, a group of homeless people huddle together in sleep.

Year
1738
Media
Print
Medium
etching and engraving
Dimensions
48.5 x 40.4 cm plate mark; 58.7 x 47.0 cm sheet
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Credit
European Art Collection Benefactors' Fund 2015
Accession number
64.2015
Provenance
William Fraser, Thence by descent
Andrew Edmunds Prints & Drawings, 2014, London/England