The Humours and Diversions of Southwark Fair. Les Bizarerries et Les Plaisirs de la Foire de Southwark.

Method Copper engraving
Artist after William Hogarth
Published Designed & Painted by Wm. Hogarth. [Robert Sayer. London, 1767]
Dimensions Image 245 x 355 mm, Plate 260 x 370 mm, Sheet 275 x 448 mm
Notes A reduced engraving after Hogarth's Southwark Fair, from Robert Sayer's Les Satyres de Guillaume Hogarth Oeuvre Moral et Comique. Sayer published Les Satyres under the auspices of Jane Hogarth, who had been granted copyright over her late husband's works by Act of Parliament.

A very lively and complex engraving of Southwark Fair, which was held around Borough High St each year in September, until its abolition in 1762 by the Court of Common Council. The fair gathered a reputation for all manner of violence and vice, and these various circumstances of criminality and tumult are depicted expertly by Hogarth in this scene. In the heaving square between near St George's Church are numerous amusements, theatrical booths, and street performances. Banners slung from the surrounding buildings advertise such diverse theatrical performances as the Drury Lane 'Stage Mutiny,' the 'Seige of Troy,' 'Punches Opera,' the Fall of Man from Eden, and even a Royal Waxworks of the Court of France. To the left, a performance of the 'Fall of Bajazet' experiences an appropriately ironic fall of its own, as the stage collapses onto a booth selling ceramics. Between two of the buildings, a tightrope walker hangs suspended from a line, while a rope-flyer dives from the church tower in the distance. The crowd at centre is a motley collection of caricatures. A dwarf playing bagpipes stands alongside a trained dog, walking on its back legs and dressed in the habit of a gentleman. A black trumpeter and a drummer-girl lead a band through the crowd, while one of their number, in Roman dress, is accosted by the bailiffs. To the right, a wastrel chats up two country girls, one of whom closely resembles Moll from Hogarth's celebrated 'Harlot's Progress.' In the extreme right, the broadsword fighter James Figg sits atop his blind horse, brandishing his weapon, while two figures sit observing a peepshow in a small hutch. Hogarth's advertisements for the Southwark Fair suggest that it was originally intended as a coda for his 'Rake's Progress,' though owing to delays in finishing the series, the Southwark Fair was actually published before the Rake.

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.

Robert Sayer (1725-1794) was one of the most prolific and successful British publishers, cartographers, and print-sellers of the Georgian era. Following his brother's marriage to the daughter in law of the publisher John Overton, Sayer continued the business, branching out into sea charts, maritime atlases, and general maps. In addition to his cartographic achievements, Sayer was also instrumental in growing the public taste for prints after paintings, particularly those by Johan Zoffany, with whom he developed a lifelong friendship as well as a lucrative business partnership. Following his death, the business was continued by Laurie and Whittle.

Condition: Excellent impression. Minor time toning and surface dirt to edges of sheet, not affecting plate.
Framing unmounted
Price £175.00
Stock ID 50692