The Times Plate II

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The Times Plate II
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William Hogarth

The Times Plate II

London, Boydell & Co 1790

Copper engraving

250 x 315mm


One of a pair of engravings with a complicated publishing history. This plate was unfinished at Hogarth’s death and it unclear whether this first proof state was published by Mrs Hogarth late in life or as the first of the sequence of later states by Boydell after 1790. To further complicate the issue, the contemporary collector George Steevens (1736-1800) has written on his copy of this state that it was ‘taken during the life time of Hogarth’, but it was not until June 1781 that he (according to Malone’s letter to Lord Charlemont) ‘ransacked Mrs. Hogarth's house for obsolete and unfinished plates’, so perhaps the inscription may be taken with a pinch of salt. Plate II of The Times depicts a more peaceful and prosperous Britain. Plants are nourished by water spouting from the monument of George III, with the elegant Lord Bute as the chief gardener of the State, controlling access to the King. A gigantic palette dangling from the facade of a newly-erected public building indicates that under the reign of the young King art flourishes. 'Ms Fanny' (a reference to the Cock Lane Ghost) and 'Wilkes', a fervent opponent of the King and Bute, appear in the pillory, while to the left those few members of Parliament who are still awake, including Pitt with bandaged legs, shoot at the dove of peace in the sky. Paulson 4th. State