The Topography of Decay

The Sleeping Congregation
Title The Sleeping Congregation
Artist William Hogarth
Date 1736 (reprinted c. 1822)
Medium Etching and engraving
Location The Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections, Northwestern University

This congregation snores through the drone of the sermon of a decrepit minister. A disjointed angel on the wall lurks above the scene, reflecting the perverse atmosphere. Here the spectacle is sexual: the deity is replaced not by monsters but by the body of a sleeping woman. As she slumbers, her fan drops to her lap, exposing her curves to the leer of a clergyman.

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