December 2012 Issue of the ‘Oxford Art Journal’

Posted in journal articles by Editor on December 10, 2012

In the current issue of the Oxford Art Journal:

Clare Walcot, “Hogarth’s The South Sea Scheme and the Topography of Speculative Finance,” Oxford Art Journal 35 (December 2012): 413-32.

William_Hogarth_-_The_South_Sea_SchemeWilliam Hogarth’s elaborate graphic satire The South Sea Scheme (1721) stages a moral tale of speculation run riot and a capital in thrall to ‘mony’s magick power’. Published in response to the failure of the eponymous scheme, Hogarth offers a satirical commentary on all forms of government-sanctioned speculation and illicit gambling. The scene is set in an imagined topography comprised of London landmarks, public buildings and temporary structures; places of authority, commerce and finance. His rearrangement of the Monument to the Great Fire and Guildhall brings into conjunction sites of cultural memory, which allude to the tense relationship between City and Crown during the post-Restoration period and rebuilding of the capital after 1666. Hogarth draws on the links these sites have with the theatre of the street, in the form of popular protest and pageantry, as it appeared on the ground and on paper. This essay examines the spectacular use of urban space and how it shaped Hogarth’s early graphic satire, as well as continental imports adapted to a London market, such as Bernard Baron’s (after Bernard Picart) A Monument Dedicated to Posterity (1721), often taken to be the model for The South Sea Scheme.

Clare Walcot’s research interests focus on financial innovation in the eighteenth century and its impact on the visual arts, and develop out of her PhD thesis entitled ‘Figuring Finance: London’s New Financial World and the Iconography of Speculation, c. 1689–1763’ (University of Warwick, 2003).

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