The Gate of Calais, or The Roast Beef of Old England

Method Copper engraving
Artist William Hogarth
Published Painted by W. Hogarth. Engrav'd by C. Mosley & W. Hogarth. Publish'd according to Act of Parliament March 6th 1749. [J & J Boydell c.1802]
Dimensions Image 345 x 440 mm, Plate 384 x 458 mm, Sheet 470 x 645 mm
Notes A satirical view of the English Gate at Calais, lampooning the French for their devotion to fashion and the Roman Catholic Faith. Hogarth had visited Calais in 1748, and explained that whilst there observing the locals and sketching a number of caricatures, he was arrested by the local garrison and questioned as a spy. In order to prove his innocence, and his profession, he was made to sketch a number of the soldiers, before being sent on his way. The scene draws attention to the 'fussy' nature of French cuisine, which Hogarth, like many visiting Englishmen, found to be most ironic at a time when shortages of food, and particularly meat, were common for the majority of the French populace. A cook is carrying a comically large side of beef, its wrappings showing it to be destined for the kitchens of Madm. Grandsire, the hotelier who accomodated most of the English visitors to Calais. The cook passes a street full of dejected and half starved characters, including a French soldier who spills his watery soup in longing for the beef, and a melancholic Scotsman, likely a Jacobite mercenary, who sits against the stone wall of an arcade. The cook is stopped in his passage by a fat friar, who, in 'blessing' the joint, runs his fingers greedily across the fat. In the bottom left corner three market women, two carrying baskets of beets and carrots, laugh at the resemblance of a ray-fish's gaping mouth to the face of the fat friar. Near the guardpost of the gate, Hogarth has inserted himself, joyfully sketching the scene as a guard's hand descends on his shoulder, a halberd hanging menacingly above his head. In the inscription space below, the title of the work is given: 'O the Roast Beef of Old England, &c.'

William Hogarth (1697 - 1764) was born in London, the son of an unsuccessful schoolmaster and writer from Westmoreland. After apprenticeship to a goldsmith, he began to produce his own engraved designs in about 1710. He later took up oil painting, starting with small portrait groups called conversation pieces. He went on to create a series of paintings satirising contemporary customs, but based on earlier Italian prints, of which the first was The Harlot's Progress (1731), and perhaps the most famous The Rake's Progress. His engravings were so plagiarised that he lobbied for the Copyright Act of 1735, commonly referred to as 'Hogarth's Act,' as a protection for writers and artists. During the 1730s Hogarth also developed into an original painter of life-sized portraits, and created the first of several history paintings in the grand manner.

Paulson 180 ii/ii, BM Satires 3050

Condition: Water stain to left side of sheet, minor toning. Paper watermarked 'S.Lay 1802'.
Framing unmounted
Price £500.00
Stock ID 38042

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