When Hogarth visited France in the summer of 1748, he was arrested on suspicion of spying while sketching the arms of England on the old city gate at Calais. This painting is Hogarth’s revenge on his captors – a satirical depiction of the scene using several anti-French references. Taking his title from a popular tune that used roast beef as a symbol of Britain’s wealth and power, Hogarth presents the French as starving soldiers, greedy fat clergymen, and skate-faced fishwives. An unhappy Jacobite sits to the right, and Hogarth’s arrest is shown on the left, a soldier’s hand clapped on his shoulder as he sketches the gate.
The largest print size we are able to offer for this artwork is 60 x 80 cm.
O the Roast Beef of Old England ('The Gate of Calais')
Hogarth and Europe
FSC Certified paper and wood
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 788 x 945 mm Tate. Presented by the Duke of Westminster 1895
William Hogarth (1697 -1764) was an English painter and engraver, renowned for his satirical engravings. Contemporary drama and novels provided Hogarth with inspiration and often explored themes of vanity, corruption, betrayal and death. His engravings and prints were hugely popular and mass-produced in his lifetime, making him one of the most significant English artists of his generation.