This is a framed original satirical etching/engraving by William Hogarth, entitled "Some Principal Inhabitants of ye Moon: Royalty, Episcopacy and Law", originally published in London in 1760.The inscription reads: ""Some of the principal inhabitants of [the] moon as they were perfectly discover'd by a telescope brought to [the] greatest perfection since [the] last eclipse; exactly engraved from the objects whereby [the] curious may guess at their religion, manners, &c.". Although this may be an original life-time printing, it may have been published by Baldwin Craddock and Joy in London in 1822 from Hogarth's original copper plate that was reworked where needed by Heath, referred to as the Heath edition. This publication was the last time that Hogarth's plates were used for a printing. Most were subsequently destroyed and those remaining are primarily held by institutions.
The scene is presented within a circle, as if seen through a telescope viewing the moon, surrounded by a square border, under which is engraved the title. The figures, who are satirically supposed to be the inhabitants of the moon, sit on a wooden platform suspended above the clouds. Three seated figures are supposed to represent the "Monarchy, Episcopacy, and Law". "Monarchy", representing royalty, sits on a throne wears a crown and he holds a globe and a sceptre. His face is a gold coin. The symbol of perpetuity, is embroidered on the cloth under his throne.
"Episcopacy", representing the church, is operating a pump by pulling on a bell-rope fastened around a bible attached to the pump handle. The pump pours out money into a chest representing the church coffers and wealth. The chest is decorated with an armorial escutcheon, containing a knife and fork, topped by a church leader's mitre. Episcopacy's face is a Jew’s Harp and his right foot rests on a pile of three cushions. A cloven foot is seen protruding from under his religious robe.
"Law" wears the type of wig worn by 18th century English judges. He holds a large sword on the right, but he does not appear to have a left arm. His face is a hammer resembling that of the Viking god Thor. Behind him a dagger appears to be thrust through the bottom of a sieve.
The bodies of the attendants on Monarchy are composed of circular fire-screens, resembling shields. The trunks of the Courtiers are large looking-glasses, the sconces, with candles in them serving for hands and arms. The face of the chief of these is the reverse of a sixpence; and a key significantly appended to his sash at once denotes his sex and office. Under the figure of Law are a male and female modishly dressed. Her head is a tea-pot, her neck is a drinking-glass and her body is a half open fan. The male figure's face is a coat of arms and his legs are fan sticks. He appears to be courting the female.
There is a great deal of satirical symbolism in this print and their meaning is not always obvious. Hogarth may have planned to include an explanation since there are letters a, b, c, d, e, f and g placed over or under some of the figures and objects. The reference books by Ronald Paulson, such as "Hogarth's Graphic Works, provide some possible interpretations.
The print is presented in an ornate glossy black wood frame with beaded gold-colored outer and inner trim, a beaded gold-colored fillet and a cream-colored silk mat. There is a small defect in the frame's right upper edge. The print was not examined out of the frame, but the visible portions of the print are in excellent condition. The frame and mat style are identical to another old master print listed on 1stdibs, a 17th century portrait of the old master artist Petrus de Jode by Anthony van Dyck. This print can be viewed by placing the 1stdibs reference # LU117327129592 in the search field. These two framed prints would make a striking display grouping. A discount is available for purchase of the pair.
Artist: William Hogarth (1697-1764) was an English painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist. Hogarth's work was extremely diverse, ranging from serious realistic paintings and portraits to satire and moralistic pieces filled with symbolism. He often communicated his moral message in a series of paintings and engravings, such as: A Rake's Progress, Marriage A