Election entertainment

For my British readers, light relief from the current election. For everybody else, well, light relief.

I was reminded of this fantastic series of Hogarth paintings by a commenter at Barista.

(A good set of the prints can be found here.)

Biography of Hogarth
timeline and commentary at Hogarth’s realm

Four prints of an election gives a detailed analysis of the prints.

I should perhaps correct a misconception that might attach to these paintings: they’re particularly linked to the general election of 1754 and the contest for the Oxfordshire county seats, and although it’s a superb satire of some of the worst excesses and corruption of pre-1832 parliamentary politics, this is not a ‘Rotten Borough‘.

Elections and the electorate in the eighteenth century
Parties and parliament in early eighteenth-century Britain
The sense of the people (book review)
The structure of politics at the accession of George III (book review)

Maybe more to come…

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6 Responses to Election entertainment

  1. Chris Williams says:

    ‘An Election Entertainment’ is also famous owing to its use by premier early modern punk band Blyth Power as an album cover. See:


    Actually, I think that Blyth Power ought to be in the links page somewhere. How many other bands have recorded songs about (to name a few) the trial of Charles I, the invasion of the Netherlands by Philip II, Penruddock’s Rising, and the reign of Mary Tudor?

  2. Harrison says:

    Gah! You 18-th century types have all the fun.

  3. liam hogan says:

    Philobiblion did a post recently on the Soane museum, where as you noted the original paintings live:
    They’re really disconcerting and off-putting up close. Much like general elections themselves.

  4. Sharon says:

    Thanks for reminding me about that post. I went to the museum last year and loved it, though unfortunately at the time parts of the museum were shut and the Hogarths were all in a temporary display, and it wasn’t the best way to see them. The lighting in places was awful and there wasn’t really enough space. Nonetheless, the election series was awesome.

  5. Paul says:

    just wanted to say this is a great site. I saw the Aberystwyth photo’s, they’re very good. I’m currently studying history here, also studying caricature, so a double bonus if you will.

    All the very best with the site


  6. Sharon says:


    (That’s with Martyn Powell, I guess?)

    *Waits for the paranoid bit to kick in…*

    Waaah! Aber students are finding the site! What if some of *mine* get here? I realise that either I go pseudonymous (that’s just not going to happen) or accept that sooner or later, they will. And get used to it. But still. Waahh!!

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