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The Political Clyster

1728, (c. 1768)
18th century
21.2 cm x 32.3 cm (8 3/8 in. x 12 11/16 in.)

William Hogarth (London, 1697 - 1764, London) Primary

Object Type: print
Artist Nationality: Europe, English
Medium and Support: Etching and engraving
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Karen G. and Dr. Elgin W. Ware, Jr. Collection, 1999
Accession Number: 1999.15

The subject of this print comes from Jonathan Swift’s satirical masterpiece, Gulliver’s Travels. The various societies that Gulliver encounters in this four-book series parodies the follies of humankind. This image derives from Book I, in which the shipwrecked Gulliver finds himself a prisoner of the six-inch high arrogant and self-important Lilliputians. It shows Gulliver, on the receiving end of an enema, being punished for urinating on the Royal Palace of Midland, an act he performed in order to extinguish a fire. In part, this is Hogarth’s critique of contemporary medical practices that seemed ineffectual. It is also a critique of politicians and public servants that includes a clergy man officiating from a chamber pot and a First Minister observing from his thimble carriage. Both ignore the activities of their own people, who misbehave in the landscape around them

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