One coasters depicting the first painting An Election by William Hogarth (1697-1764) The candidates of one party are wooing electors with lavish entertainment. The opposing party is passing in procession outside. In the resultant fracas one of the guests is hit by a flying brick; in the foreground, another man is having his wounds tended.
The four paintings in Hogarth's final 'modern moral subject' series was first purchased by Soane in 1823 for the sum of 1650 guineas at an auction of the effects of Mrs Garrick, widow of the Shakespearean actor, David Garrick. An Election is very finely painted and the series ranks as one of Hogarth's greatest masterpieces. Soane was not deterred by polite feelings or revulsion at what the Gentleman's Magazine called 'the very many disgusting, if not depraved exhibitions of human nature' in the paintings.
The series of paintings are part of a long tradition of political satire on the theme of hthe vices attendant on rural election campaigns. Although the paintings and engravings were inspired by the 1754 election, and especially the events in Oxfordshire, Hogarth may have been influenced by a 1741 poem, The Humours of a Country Election. His pessimistic view of humanity as a mass of drunken, greedy and stupid individuals may well reflect Hogarth's unhappiness towards the end of his life when he found many of his ideals, both for art and for everyday life, were being superseded.
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