Art Hx: Visual and Medical Legacies of British Colonialism

A dense urban space, populated by white figures in varying states of physical distress. At the forground, a gaunt figure clutches a bottle of gin while holding a bare bone that a dog eyes. In the middle, a woman in tattered clothes takes snuff while dropping a baby off the steps. She is seated next to a bar sign that advertises GIN ROYAL. Behind these figures runs a wall. At the right a sign advertises KILMAN DISTILLER with numbered barrels of gin. There is a crowd of figures in front of the distillery, many of whom appear to have injuries, including one figure in a wheelbarrow who is being fed with a pap boat or small tumbler. Directly behind them is an open grave and bodies more or less fitting into coffins are being lowered into it. At the left, under a sign that reads S GRIPE PAWN BROKER, a couple offers clothes, pots, and a saw to a pawn broker, presumambly to buy more gin. At the bottom of the image is the following poem: Gin cursed Fiend with Fury fraught, Makes human Race a Prey; It enters by a deadly Draught, And steals our Life away. Virtue and Truth, driv'n to Despair, It's Rage compells to fly, But cherishes, with hellish Care, Theft, Murder, Perjury. Damn'd Cup! that on the Vitals preys, That liquid Fire contains Which Madness to the Heart conveys, And rolls it thro' the Veins.

Title:  Gin Lane

Artist/Maker: William Hogarth

Date: 1751

Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Copyright/Permissions: Open Access, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1932, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Location(s): London, England

Art Hx