Hogarth Canvassing for votes


After William Hogarth. “Canvassing for Votes.” 15 7/8 x 21. London: John Stockdale, Piccadilly & John Walker and G. Robinson, Paternoster Row, 1812. Re-engraving by Thomas Cook. Very good condition.


William Hogarth (1697-1764) is considered by many to be the greatest English caricaturist of all time.  He was a perceptive observer and his illustrations of the social and political conduct of his day are fascinating historical documents and humorous depictions of human foibles, which have remained much the same over the last two centuries.  Hogarth was a painter of considerable accomplishment but it is for his prints that he is best known.

This engraving is from an excellent collection of re-engraved Hogarth prints.  It is from a series of images drawn by William Hogarth and inspired by a notorious election for the Parliamentary seat from Oxfordshire in 1754.  That election was famous for its corruption and Hogarth produced his series, supposed to take place in a fictional town of ‘Guzzledown,” as a lampoon of not only that specific election, but elections in general.  The series shows the chaos and corruption surrounding electioneering in eighteenth century England, but with universal relevance to any election.   This print is the second of the series and it shows the corruption involved in the campaigning for votes.  Outside ‘The Royal Oak’  a candidate is buying trinkets to give to two women on the balcony, which a “undecided” voter is approached by agents for the competing candidates with offers of food and wine.  In the background, a mob attacks the headquarters of the other party.  Other more elaborate symbols fill the print, making it not only an attractive image, but also one well worth study.