The Polling is the third painting from Hogarth's An Election series.
The electors are a motley crowd and include a lunatic and a felon. A solider has his vote queried since, as a result of fighting for his country, he has no hand to use in taking the oath. No one pays any attention to Britannia's plight in the broken coach.
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towards the end of his life when he found many of his ideals, both for art and for everyday life, were being superseded.
Digital prints are printed in the UK on 250gsm paper sized 280 x 356mm and have a white border. They are packaged in a cello bag with a backing board for protection.
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