Isaac and Ede Antique Prints
Hogarth Undertakers

William Hogarth

The Company of Undertakers

7 x 10.5 inches

A copper plate etching by William Hogarth in which he mocks the medical profession; published in London by Robert Sayer in collaboration with Jane Hogarth, 1767.

t is not undertakers who are represented here but rather the medical profession. In this highly whimsical image Hogarth presents us with a represented coat of arms for the medical profession where death overcomes recovery. Many of the faces depicted resemble well known doctors and physicians of the day. The print is bordered in black like a mourning card and the Latin inscription reads "Et Plurima Mortis Imago" (And many an image of death).

In the upper section of the shield there are three doctors who each exhibit signs of some medical disorder or insanity. In the lower section there are 12 other medics, the majority of whom are holding canes that were used to transport disinfectant. They appear to be either sniffing or tasting the contents, possibly to avoid at all costs the risk of contamination. One doctor holds a portable urinal and tastes the contents with his forefinger whilst two others inspect it through their eyeglasses. All are united by their disdainful expressions. Crossed bones bottom left and right complete the image of death.


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