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Chairing the Member
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rzarlif's picture

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Scene four of Hogarth's "An Election" is a bit like a scene from Auguste Rodin’s Gates of Hell: in every corner there is a human horror is playing out. 

The winner of the elections in Oxfordshire is ‘chaired’ through the village in a victory tour. In the back, cleaver wielding voters confront members of the opposing party. 

The winning candidate is being upended from his chair by two guys who are having a go with big sticks.

And it goes downhill from there:

  • The lad in a red coat is beating his donkey, while the bear is pilfering the lad’s barrel of produce. 
  • An armed monkey, riding the bear (?!), is freaking out because a chimney sweep is peeing on his back.
  • A big old sow has upended her owner and is making a dash for it with her five piglets (one has fallen into the stream). 
  • Why on earth is there a goose flying over the whole scene? Maybe Hogarth is tell us that the voters got ‘goosed.’
  • If that’s not enough drama for you, there’s a fainting lady, a blind fiddler, Whig party officials peering out of window with expressions of mirth and dismay, a bloodied soldier eating a pie…