The British Bee Hive

Print
1840 (designed), 1867 (printed and published)
The British Bee Hive thumbnail 1
The British Bee Hive thumbnail 2
+3
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Cruikshank's image of the bee hive as a metaphor for society is based on an idea developed by the economist Adam Smith in the 1770s which suggested that social status and social identity were primarily determined not by social, religious or political rank, but by occupation and by an individual's relation to the means of production. So in this print the hierarchy of British society is presented as a pyramid showing each profession's relative importance and status. Bees are a singularly industrious species in which there are clear divisions of labour, and have been used as a metaphor for human social structures since Roman times.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Etching
Brief Description
George Cruikshank, pamphlet, 'The British Bee Hive'.
Marks and Inscriptions
  • Designed in the year 1840 - by George Cruikshank and altered & etched by him in Feby. 1867 - & Pubd. in March 67
  • Published by the Artist And Sold by W. Tweedie 337 Strand-: LONDON
Credit line
Given by Mrs. George Cruikshank
Object history
One of seven copies of the pamphlet 'The British Bee Hive'.
Subject depicted
Summary
Cruikshank's image of the bee hive as a metaphor for society is based on an idea developed by the economist Adam Smith in the 1770s which suggested that social status and social identity were primarily determined not by social, religious or political rank, but by occupation and by an individual's relation to the means of production. So in this print the hierarchy of British society is presented as a pyramid showing each profession's relative importance and status. Bees are a singularly industrious species in which there are clear divisions of labour, and have been used as a metaphor for human social structures since Roman times.
Associated Object
9779 (Design)
Bibliographic Reference
Rank. Picturing the social order 15-16-2009 Sunderland: Northern Gallery for Comtemporary Art, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-9549119-3-5
Collection
Accession Number
9779A/4

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record createdJune 12, 2008
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