William Hogarth, The Bad Taste of the Town, an etching

London, England, AD 1724

Hogarth's first blast against foreign imports

This etching was Hogarth's earliest attack on the taste for foreign fashions and one of his earliest satires. It was the first print that he published on his own account. His targets are: the masquerade dances laid on by the Swiss impresario Heidegger; pantomimes (the English version of the commedia dell'arte), which were taking an increasingly large place in the theatrical repertoire; opera, an aristocratic Italian import sustained by the visits of lavishly rewarded Italian singers; and Italianate architecture of the kind championed by Lord Burlington (Richard Boyle (1694-1753), 3rd Earl of Burlington) and William Kent (1685-1748). The grenadiers at the gates hint at the patronage of King George I (reigned 1714-27), a German who did not speak English.

In the centre the works of the great English dramatists, William Congreve, John Dryden, Thomas Otway and William Shakespeare are being sold as waste paper.

The sign advertising operas is a small copy of another satirical print showing the earl of Peterborough kneeling to offer the singer Francesca Cuzzoni £8,000 to perform in London.

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More information


R. Paulson, Hogarths graphic works, 3rd edition (London, The Print Room, 1989)

D. Bindman, Hogarth and his times: serious, exh. cat. (London, The British Museum Press, 1997)

R. Paulson, Hogarth, vol 2 (Cambridge, Lutterworth, 1991-93)

T. Clayton, The English print, 1688-1802 (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1997)


Museum number

PD 1857-5-9-13



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