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Pit Ticket, after William Hogarth

Original copper-engraved print, published 1805 by Thomas cook


The scene takes place in the Royal Cockpit in Birdcage Walk near St James’s Park.

Cockfighting was a popular sport enjoyed by men from all levels of society. In the centre, the figure of the blind Lord Albermarle Bertie presides over the fight, taking bets as a thief steals one of his banknotes, whist diagonally opposite it the foreground watches a hangman. Two cocks are fighting on the left side of the cockpit; one foot of each feeder is visible at opposite ends of the fighting table. A shadow, is cast by a man suspended overhead in a basket who has been "exalted" He is an unlucky one who could not pay for a lost bet. According to the laws of the cockpit such one is put into a basket and drawn up to the ceiling. In this pitiful position the punished one is carried away by the common passion. He offers his watch for betting.

The royal arms hang on the brick wall at the back left of the image, inscribed with a broadside depicting Nan Rawlings the ‘Duchess of Deptford’ a cock-breeder and well-known figure on the fighting circuit. An oval medallion hangs in the centre foreground, inscribed with a cock crowing and the phrase “Royal Sport." This medallion is named “Pit Ticket,” a word written on either side of it, and represents a token of admission to the cockfight.

Dimensions: 46cm (18") High, 52cm (20½") Wide
Stock code: P00535
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