Not currently on display at the V&A

The Laughing Audience

Print
1735 (printed)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This print is reproduced from a Hogarth engraving. Hogarth's work ranged from realistic portraiture to satirical sequential art, in an early comic strip-like style. Much of his work, though at times vicious, poked fun at contemporary politics and customs.

In this etching, the caricatured audience in the 'cheap seats' is watching an exaggeratedly funny play. They are separated from the orchestra by a wooden partition with large spikes to discourage them from climbing over, a practice that was not unheard of, particularly if the play was dull. The foreground shows three members of the orchestra, one of whom has removed his wig for comfort.

Behind the laughing audience are two more smartly-dressed gentlemen who have paid for a box and so have more space. Neither shows any interest in what is happening on stage, or even in buying oranges, since both are evidently set on a different form of entertainment.

This print was originally used as a subscription ticket for prints of Southwark Fair and A Rake's Progress. It features Hogarth's signature and wax seal in the bottom right hand corner.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraving on paper, with wax seal and manuscript
Brief Description
Etching by William Hogarth, 'The Laughing Audience'. Used as a subscription ticket for a set of 9 engravings, 8 of 'The Rake's Progress', 1 of a Fair. Printed as a receipt of the first payment of half a guinea with, in ink, the date 24 April 1735 and the name of the subscriber Thomas Grimstone, Esq. Sealed and signed by Hogarth.
Physical Description
Engraving printed on paper, featuring illustration of a theatre audience, with information about a subscription written below. Signed by Hogarth, and stamped with his wax seal in bottom right.
Dimensions
  • Height: 27cm
  • Width: 26cm
Marks and Inscriptions
1735 Recd. Apr of Tho Grimston Esq / Half a Guinea being the first Payment for Nine Prints, 8 of Which / Represent a Rakes Progress & the 9th a Fair, Which I Promise to / Deliver when finsih'd on Receiving one Guinea more, the / Print of the Fair being Deliver'd at the time of Subscibing. / NB: the Rakes alone will be two Guineas after the time of Subscribing. / Wm Hogarth
Gallery Label
The Laughing Audience 1733 Until the 19th century the theatre was a place to flirt, fight and socialise as well as to see a play. This print shows most of the audience in the pit enjoying the play. The men behind them in the more expensive box are showing no interest in the performance and rather more interest in the women selling oranges. Etching By William Hogarth (1697–1764) Harry R. Beard Collection, given by Isobel Beard Museum no. S.55-2008
Credit line
Harry R. Beard Collection, given by Isobel Beard
Summary
This print is reproduced from a Hogarth engraving. Hogarth's work ranged from realistic portraiture to satirical sequential art, in an early comic strip-like style. Much of his work, though at times vicious, poked fun at contemporary politics and customs.



In this etching, the caricatured audience in the 'cheap seats' is watching an exaggeratedly funny play. They are separated from the orchestra by a wooden partition with large spikes to discourage them from climbing over, a practice that was not unheard of, particularly if the play was dull. The foreground shows three members of the orchestra, one of whom has removed his wig for comfort.



Behind the laughing audience are two more smartly-dressed gentlemen who have paid for a box and so have more space. Neither shows any interest in what is happening on stage, or even in buying oranges, since both are evidently set on a different form of entertainment.



This print was originally used as a subscription ticket for prints of Southwark Fair and A Rake's Progress. It features Hogarth's signature and wax seal in the bottom right hand corner.
Other Number
f.38-24 - H Beard collection numbering
Collection
Accession Number
S.55-2008

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record createdJuly 3, 2008
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