The Cock Pit ~ Pit Ticket
15 x 12½ inches
Black and white etching and engraving on copper plate, designed and engraved by William Hogarth and published in London in 1759.
The scene is The Royal Cockpit in Birdcage Walk, St. James's Park with the print pretending to be an admission ticket for one of the fights, hence Pit Ticket . The central figure depicts the blind peer, Lord Albermarle Bertie who is having his winnings stolen by unscrupulous thieves. Bertie was the son of Lord Ancaster and came from one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in England. Hogarth has based him upon Michelangelo's depiction of Christ in the Last Supper. The figures to either side of the central vignette are symmetrical in their composition whilst the foreground is illustrated with two jockeys and a drunkard. The laws of the cockpit were very strict and anyone caught unable to pay their gambling debt was strung up in a basket above the pit. The shadow of one such debtor can be seen falling onto the scene with the culprit offering his pocket watch by way of payment. In the background the portrait of Nan Rawlings is that of a famous breeder of fighting cocks. At the centre of it all two cocks valiantly battle it out for supremacy in the pit. The Royal Cockpit became an institution under Charles II, thrived during the C18th and was only closed down in 1810.£1200