The Topography of Decay

The following prints are not available on-line due to copyright restrictions. All the labels have, however been provided for individuals who may have other access to the prints, or who are interested in the development of the thematic section.
Title Cunicularii, or The Wife men of Godliman in Consultation
Artist William Hogarth
Date 1726
Medium Etching
Location The Newberry Library

Mary Toft, a woman from the small town of Godliman (also called Guildford), claimed in the fall of 1726 to have given birth to eighteen rabbits in order to gain fame and wealth. Hogarth pokes fun at the gullibility of the local doctor (B) and the royal anatomist and surgeon (A and C) who inspect Toft in a London bagnio, where people come to witness the monstrous spectacle. The scene's other characters conspire in the plot, which dupes even the most educated men in England.

Title The Doctors in Labour; or a New Whim Wham from Guildford
Artist Anonymous
Date 1726
Medium Etching and engraving
Location The Newberry Library

This anonymous print illustrates in detail the rise and fall of Mary Toft. Her ruse eventually gained her passage to the city. But even after her masquerade was revealed, her fame as a public spectacle - as well as the infamy of the deceived doctors - continued for decades.
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