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William Hogarth
Beer Street and Gin Lane

In satirising the faults of English society Hogarth never understated matters. He crammed his scenes with people enacting every conceivable (and some almost inconceivable) aspects of the case in hand. In these engravings, Hogarth compares the joys of beer drinking with the ravages of gin.

The prints are a masterly collection of excesses, yet the evils that Hogarth attacked were very real ones. Gin and other hard liquors were cheap and could be sold without license - distillers operated with government approval because they bought surplus grain, thus swelling farm income. This unregulated traffic in cheap spirits had a horrible effect on the English working class.

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Beer Street
Gin Lane

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