Politics in Print

 
An Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scene
Title An Emblematical Print on the South Sea Scene
Artist William Hogarth
Date 1721 (reprinted c. 1822)
Medium Etching and engraving
Location The Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections,
Northwestern University

 


Hogarth satirizes crowds consumed by political speculation on the verge of the stock market collapse of 1720. The 'merry-go-round' was set in motion by the South Sea Company, who held a monopoly on trade between South America, the Pacific Islands and England. The Company tempted vast numbers of middle-class investors to make quick money through absurd speculations. The wheel of fortune in the center of the print is broken, symbolizing the abandonment of values for quick money, while 'Trade' lies starving to death. On the right, the original inscription on the London Fire Monument--erected in memory of the destruction of the City by the Great Fire in 1666--has been altered to read: 'This monument was erected in memory of the destruction of the city by the South Sea in 1720.'
Section Selection       Current Image Next Image Next + 1 Next Image

Exhibition