The Enraged Musician

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The Enraged Musician
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William Hogarth
The Enraged Musician
London,  J. Boydell 1809
Copper engraving
360 x 410mm
£700
Originally intended to be a companion plate to the Distrest Poet. Fielding wrote that this scene 'is enough to make a man deaf to look at'. Every figure in this plate is producing a deafening cacophony of noise. The central figure is a pretty young milkmaid crying her wares and balancing a huge pail on her head. She is flanked on either side by an oboist and a little boy banging a drum. A knife grider sharpens a chopper, a dog barks, a little boy pees in a tin plate, a little girl whirls a rattle and a one eyed, syphilitic ballad singer, cradling her screaming baby, bawls her song. In the background a man blows a cow horn, a dustman shouts his services, two cats quarrel on a rooftop and a chimney sweep bawls out of a chimney. In the distance is the church of St. Martins in the Fields with a flag flying, indicating that this is a feast day and the bells are ringing (Hogarth, who lived nearby, is said to have resented the 'frequent uproar of the bells'). Against all these disagreeable street noises Hogarth pits the poor musician (identified as the music teacher John Festin). He leans angrily out of his open window, shouting (naturally) at the noisemakers in the street, a violin bow in one hand and his hands over his ears. Paulson 152 final state