Beer Street

Beer Street

William Hogarth (1697 - 1764)

Date: 1732
389 x 321 mm
Medium: Etching and engraving
Object number: PT1096
DescriptionBeer Street
Etching and engraving.
1751. State 3. 38.9 x 32.1 cm
Above plate: Beer Street. Below Plate: Designed by W. Hogarth Publish'd according to Act of Parliament Feb 1.1751. Price 1s
Paulson 185.
Beer Street

Beer Street in contrast to Gin Lane, and is set in a relatively prosperous area of near St Martins in the Field. The aim of Hogarth with this engraving was to try and promote the benefits as he saw them of drinking beer as opposed to gin drinking. The verses written at the bottom of the engraving emphasise a patriotic agenda about beer being "happy produce of our isle, that's warms each English breast with Liberty and Love".

The scene of celebration takes place on George II birthday (30th October) a flag is flying on the church spire. A copy of the Kings 1748 speech to Parliament lies on the table. In the speech the King encouraged the "Advancement of Our Commerce and the cultivating Art and Peace". Hogarth is linking the drinking of beer with economic and social well being of the nation.

All the buildings in scene are solid and well built or going through a process of rebuilding or restoration. The only building that is dilapidated is the under used Pawnbroker's shop propped up by a wooden brace.

A jolly copper (a barrel maker) is laughing at a butcher holding a leg a large leg of ham in one hand and holding a tankard of beer in the other while smoking his pipe.

All of the characters in the scene are well fed and healthy and the baskets carried by the fish sellers are full. The exception is the French sign painter who is thin and emaciated.

Beneath the pub sign of the Barley Mow the dressed French sign painter adds a second sign advertising gin. Hogarth is alluding here to the dangers of gin drinking that he illustrated in the engraving of Gin Lane.