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Print - The Bad Taste of the Town
  • The Bad Taste of the Town
    Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10
  • Enlarge image

The Bad Taste of the Town

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1724 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (engraver)
    Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etching and engraving

  • Credit Line:

    The Forster Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, case 3

Object Type
This print by William Hogarth combines two printmaking techniques - etching and engraving. Both involved creating a pattern of grooves to hold ink in a metal printing plate. The etched lines were made using acid, while the engraved lines were scored by means of a sharp tool called a burin. The grooves were then filled with ink and the image was transferred onto a blank sheet of paper.

This was the first print Hogarth sold independently of the established London printsellers. It cost one shilling. He had trouble selling it because soon after publication, half-price pirated copies appeared.

Hogarth made this print quite early on in his career. In it he touches on some of the themes and motifs that were important to his work. These include the theatre, street life and the battle between native British culture and its Italian and French equivalents.

Subject Depicted
On the left the public is queuing to get into a masquerade, a sort of fancy dress party with erotic possibilities. This enthusiasm for a form of entertainment with Italian origins is contrasted with a corresponding neglect of British culture. The woman in the foreground is pushing a wheelbarrow of waste paper filled with the works of authors such as Shakespeare and Dryden.

Physical description

Landscape format print showing crowds of people in a street.

Place of Origin

London (made)


1724 (made)


Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (engraver)
Hogarth, William, born 1697 - died 10 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Etching and engraving

Marks and inscriptions

'Wm. Hogarth Invt. et Sculpt.'


Height: 17 cm sheet, Width: 24.2 cm sheet

Object history note


Descriptive line

Masquerades and Operas 'The Bad Taste of the Town

Labels and date

British Galleries:
The Palladian style was often criticised for being non-British and unpatriotic. The artist William Hogarth (1697-1764) was a leading opponent. In the foreground, Hogarth ridicules the enthusiasm for Italian opera. He links it with Lord Burlington by setting the scene in front of the gate of Burlington's London house, labelled 'The Academy of Art'. [27/03/2003]

Subjects depicted

Crowds; Opera; Opera house


Prints; Caricatures & Cartoons; British Galleries


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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