Gin Lane by William Hogarth is an image I first remember seeing when I studied history at school as it depicts a moment throughout the gin craze of the early 18th century. Gin being an alcoholic drink that was consumed amongst the poorer parts of society.
The popularity of Gin was due to a ban on imported French wines and spirits in 1689 and the encouragement by British Government on distillation of spirits by the cut of taxes. Due to it’s cheap nature, popularity boomed and “according to one estimate, by 1743, England was drinking 2.2 gallons (10 litres) of gin per person per year“.
What I love most about the story of Gin Lane and Hogarth’s infamous print is that it depicts a raw, swarming, grotesque scene of the effects gin was ultimately having on people. Effects that contributed to sharp rise in criminality and disorder. Hogarth’s detailed print illustrates this historical context not just as it may have been but also providing a commentary by showing how barbaric and foul humanity had become as a result of gin.