The Great Court of the British Museum, £9.99
Height: 213.000 mm
Width: 289.000 mm
Prints and Drawings
William Hogarth, a preliminary drawing for Plate 8 of Industry and Idleness
The Industrious 'Prentice grown rich and Sheriff of London
In the narrative of Industry and Idleness, Francis Goodchild has been elected as one of the two Sheriffs of London, an essential step towards becoming Lord Mayor. He and his wife are guests of honour at a City banquet seated beneath a grand portrait of the king. A group of constituents present a petition at the door.
The scene shows a banquet of soup, joints of meat, poultry and huge pies being enjoyed in Fishmongers' Hall beside London Bridge. The Hall is identifiable by the statue of Lord Mayor William Walworth, a Fishmonger, who killed Wat Tyler, one of the leaders of the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.
Since its inception in the thirteenth century, the Fishmongers' Company has been responsible for the inspection of all fish sold in the City to ensure that it is fit for human consumption. The main London market for fish remained at Billingsgate, just downstream of London Bridge, until 1982. The Hall portrayed by Hogarth was demolished in 1827 when London Bridge was reconstructed. The present Hall was completed in 1834.
The drawing differs only in details from Hogarth's finished print: the female diner in the foreground is replaced by a man served by a black waiter, and one group of musicians has been omitted. The perspective lines of the great room are indented and pricked so that chalk can be dusted through the tiny holes on to the copper plate.