The Topography of Decay

Gin Lane
Title Gin Lane
Artist William Hogarth
Date 1751 (reprinted c. 1822)
Medium Etching and engraving
Location The Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University

In Hogarth's London, gin was cheap, and alcoholism was rampant. The pawnbroker, distiller, and funeral home are the only sturdy structures in this crumbling, desperate landscape of suicide and starvation. In 1751, the year in which these politically engaged and rather propagandistic prints were circulated, a Gin Act was passed in Parliament that finally exerted control over the distribution of gin.

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