The Lottery

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The Lottery
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William Hogarth

The Lottery

London, Baldwin Craddock & Joy, 1822

Copper engraving

260 x 330mm


First published in 1724, this plate has long been regarded as a sister engraving to the South Sea Scheme. State lotteries to raise money for important national projects, under the authority of Parliament, were held at intervals between 1694 – 1826. Tickets in the 1720’s were priced at £10 and as many as 80,000 prizes were given from £100,000 to £20. This allegorical view shows the stage at the Guildhall, with lots being drawn from giant lottery wheels. On the left, Wantonness, depicted as half man and half woman, with a windmill in her hand, draws lots, while on the right is Fortune, blindfolded and standing on her famous wheel. At the centre is Suspense on a turnstile, alternately turned by Hope and Fear. On the left Misfortune has a drawn a Blank, and is directed by Minerva (Wisdom) towards Industry with her spinning wheel on the floor, while Sloth, with a snail crawling up his back to symbolise inactivity, hides his head in a curtain. On the right Good Luck has won a prize, but is already being tempted away by Folly in cap and bells and Pleasure, naked and a satyr at her elbow. A philospher with his books of Poetry, History and Divinity is shown sinking through the weak floor. Paulson 53 final state.