The Elections: Calling for Hogarth's Vote

The Elections: Calling for Hogarth's Vote
The Elections: Calling for Hogarth's Vote

While other British artists such as Gainsborough had carved a niche for themselves as genuine Rococo painters specializing in gentle scenes featuring the bourgeoisie and aristocracy of the time, William Hogarth had to take another path, focusing on scenes of daily life in his country, generally applying a satirical touch, either in his paintings or in his engravings, since he had to do many of the latter to make it easier to sell.


The Elections: Calling for Hogarth's Vote

So when in the year 1754 the newspapers of England began to publish news about embezzlement and corruption by politicians who participated in the electoral campaign of that election year In general, the painter set his sights on these matters.


And he dedicated up to four frames to the different corruptions that were taking place at that time. Among them is this oil-painted canvas titled Elections: Ask for the vote. A painting made in the same year of 1754 and currently owned by Sir John Soane's Museum in London.

They were works that also ended up becoming very popular prints. And the fact is that the objective was to capture the population's discontent with this electoral system, which would later be used by the monarchy to strengthen its power against aParliament less and less loved by the people.

And it is not surprising if we carefully observe this table in which Hogarth presents us with the most common political practices of bribery in those years. And the truth is that he does it as a crude denunciation and criticism, and the moralizing tone that usually exists in his other works is missing.

In short, we see, for example, three characters in the center of the painting. The one in the middle would be a peasant whom the two candidates surround him and try to convince him to win his vote with words, but if we look closely, you can see how both are bribing him by putting money in his hands, and the peasant smiles admitting the coins of both.

And you can also see a large billboard in the middle of the street, and it shows the usual practice of how candidates loot public coffers not to govern, but to bribe voters. These are just two of the many details that this canvas contains, which, as is usual for Hogarth, is full of humor and also good painting, especially for its exceptional narrative capacity, integrating different scenes and sequences within the same work.

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