Before and After

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Before and After
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William Hogarth

1. Before 2. After

London, ca.1820

Copper engravings


Two of Hogarth's most erotic engravings. In Before the scene is a lady's bedchamber, with a pretty young woman struggling to evade the embraces of a leering gentleman (identified as the Magistrate Sir John Willes who was known to have more than twenty illegitimate children) who draws her towards the bed. Significantly she has already discarded her corset which lies on a chair. In her struggles she has overturned the dressing table, exposing two books in the drawer, The Practice of Piety at the front and hidden at the back a Novel and a love letter are revealed. Her spaniel barks excitedly, and on the wall in the background a painting labelled Before shows a small cupid lighting a firework. In After the situation is reversed. The dismayed gentleman struggles to pull on his breeches and button his fly, while his inamorata clings to his arm and coat, trying to drag him down again onto the bed. The bed hangings have been pulled down, the dressing table and mirror lie smashed on the floor, the painting on the wall in the background revealed by the overturning of the table is After and shows a spent firework returning to earth, the spaniel is now asleep and on the floor a book by Aristotle is entitled Omne Animal Post Coitum Triste. Paulson 141 III / III & 142 III / III