The setting is the poverty-stricken slums of St Giles, where the binge drinking of gin was a major social problem. A drunken mother is oblivious to her child’s fall into the stairwell of a gin cellar, while a skeletal ballad singer has passed out nearby. Gripe the pawnbroker is thriving, as people pawn everything for drink. Mothers quieten their babies with gin and children sip it. Hogarth published this print in support of a campaign to stop drunkenness among London’s poor. The Gin Act was passed in 1751, which introduced licensing of retail premises and a greatly reduced consumption.
etching and engraving
ii/iv states (first published state)
38.5 x 31.9 cm (trimmed to platemark)
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
European prints and drawings 1500-1900, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Aug 2014–02 Nov 2014