William Hogarth (1697-1764) was an English painter, engraver, printmaker and cartoonist. He is famed for his moralizing and satirical pictures of 'modern moral subjects' and credited as being the Western pioneer of the comic-strip. Many of his works were of political, social or moral commentary and were published in newspapers and magazines. Hogarth was also in demand as a portrait painter throughout his career.
‘Gin Lane’ is a famous print from 1751 which was published along with ‘Beer Alley’ as propaganda against the dangerous effects of alcoholism. ‘Beer Alley’ shows a happy society drinking ‘good’ English beer, whereas the inhabitants of Gin Lane are prey to the vices of harder spirits and are sickly and careless – at the front of the picture, a woman is allowing her baby to fall to its death. This was probably with reference to Judith Dufour, a woman who strangled her baby so she could sell its clothes for gin money. The pictures were published in support of the Gin Act of 1751.