I love these prints. Two articles from 2014 tell the story.
William Hogarth: Gin Lane vs Beer Street (The Economist)
Two prints about booze have proved among the artist’s most enduring works
“Gin Lane” was created as part of a pair; its lesser-known counterpart is “Beer Street”. By juxtaposing the two, Hogarth was illustrating the difference, as seen by contemporaries, between gin, a drink for the desperate and disenfranchised, and beer, a wholesome beverage for the working man.
Another in-depth look at Gin Lane.
When gin was full of sulphuric acid and turpentine, by Finlo Rohrer (BBC News Magazine)
It’s 250 years since the death of William Hogarth. His famous work Gin Lane still informs the way people think about the drink.
It’s arguably the most potent anti-drug poster ever conceived. A woman, her clothes in disarray, her head thrown back in intoxicated oblivion, allows her baby to slip from her grasp, surely to its death in a stairwell below.
She’s the centrepiece in an eye-wateringly grim urban melee – full of death, misery, starvation and fighting.
The year was 1751. The drug in question was gin. And the engraving was a conscious effort by William Hogarth, along with his friend novelist Henry Fielding, to force the government to do something about a drink that was threatening to tear apart the social fabric of England.