London becomes a landscape of hell in this vision of a society falling down. A baby is dropped into the abyss. Addicts slump in the streets. A building tumbles and a corpse is dumped in a cheap coffin. Hogarth’s nightmare scene resembles a fantasy painted by Bosch, but the steeple of St George’s Bloomsbury church shows this is set in central London. Far from indulging in horror for its own sake, Hogarth wants to reform working-class morality in this cheap, popular print. He is condemning the craze for gin, the heroin of its day, in this image of the poor drinking themselves to death Barney Burstein
Krystian Filip Jarnuszkiewicz has not chosen a license for this content.