William Hogarth – The Invasion a. France Plate 1st b. England Plate 2nd
Hogarth engraved these plates at the outbreak of the Seven Years War when, early in 1756 French troops were massing at Le Havre and Brest, in preparation for an invasion.
The scare was forgotten by November after Hawke’s destruction of the French fleet at Quiberon. Intended as morale boosters, the engravings show the supposed differences in lifestyle between the French and the English.
In France plate ‘a’, the scene is the coast of France with troops loading onto a ship for the invasion of England. In the foreground a Catholic monk tests the edge of a headsman’s axe, which he has taken from an executioner’s sled filled with gruesome instruments of torture and a Plan pour un Monastre dans Black Friars a Londre.
Behind him are a group of skinny, ragged French soldiers shouldering their muskets, one of whom is cooking frogs spitted on his sword, over a small fire. The inn sign is Soupe Meagre a la Sabot Royal. Plate ‘b’ England is a complete contrast. Here, outside the Duke of Cumberland inn, where beef is Roast & Boil’d every Day, a group of plump, well dressed soldiers drink beer, smoke their pipes, make merry with two pretty chambermaids, and draw an obscene caricature of King Louis holding a gibbet on the pub wall.
The table overflows with food and drink and a copy of Thomas Arne’s recently written Rule Britannia, a small drummer boy plays his pipe, a boy stands on tiptoe while being measured by a recruiting sergeant, and the militia parade in the background.
William Hogarth, (born November 10, 1697, London, England—died October 26, 1764, London). The first great English-born artist to attract admiration abroad. Best known for his MORAL and satirical engravings and paintings—e.g., A Rake’s Progress (eight scenes,1733).
His attempts to build a reputation as a history painter and portraitist, however, met with financial disappointment. His aesthetic theories had more influence in Romantic literature than in painting.