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Southwark Fair, copper-engraved print after William Hogarth
1805 Cook edition
The interrelationship between theatre and everyday life
Framed with gold slip
Southwark Fair was held off Borough High Street in the area around St George the Martyr, the square tower of the old church can be seen in the background. Hogarth conceived Southwark Fair as a kind of epilogue to A Rake’s Progress, the final scene of which shows Tom Rakewell consigned to Bedlam. Southwark Fair transfers the viewer to a chaotic London street fair, with its theatrical troupes, street performers, puppet shows and carnival characters. Tom Rakewell’s spectacular fall is comically paralleled by the troupe of players in costume, tumbling downwards as their stage collapses. In this context the crowd milling around on the street are both spectators and part of the spectacle, as well as potential subject matter for Hogarth’s satirical eye.