Gin Lane

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The more alarming events in Gin Lane explore the degradation that went hand in hand with drinking imported gin, a scourge that was thought to target women in particular. At center, a drunken mother seated on stairs above a gin cellar drops her baby as she reaches for a pinch of snuff. Others caught up in the Gin Craze pawn their clothes and kettles to buy the drink, while their fellow Londoners fight dogs for bones or attack each other outside the aptly named Kilman Distillery. At upper left a suicide hangs from the rafters, while a burial takes place beneath a coffin maker’s shop sign. The recognizable setting—with the tower of St. George’s, Bloomsbury, in the distance—is the impoverished and derelict district of St. Giles in Westminster.

William Hogarth (1697–1764)
Gin Street
1750–51
Red chalk, over traces of black chalk (in left foreground), with graphite, incised with stylus; verso rubbed with red chalk for transfer.
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan (1837–1913) in 1909
The Morgan Library & Museum, III, 36.