The ballots have been counted, the election results are in and Diane Sawyer is likely recovering from a hangover. It’s been a long campaign season and yet many of us are sad to see its end. When you’ve spent the last 6 months eating dinner with the same political ads, and then one night they just don’t show up, you may feel lost. You may not know what to talk about around the watercooler, or what to debate about on Facebook. The world as you know it stops and all you’re left with is PED – post-election depression.
Thanks to the humor of an old Englishman, we have a cure for you. William Hogarth (1697-1764), known around here as the painter of comic history, was born in London and rarely strayed from his beloved city. Overcrowded with a million people, London provided a limitless source of subjects for his observant eye and sharp wit.
In his series, Four Prints of an Election, Hogarth covered all of the drama and political antics that so many of us love to gossip and joke about. In Plate 1, An Election Entertainment, bribes are readied, beverages are consumed, and oppositional bricks are thrown. Plate 2, Canvassing for Votes, shows electioneering in full swing. More bribes are handed out, ladies are promised to supporters and political mishaps of the past are remembered. When we get to The Polling (plate 3), the two candidates bicker in front of potential voters – the sick, the imbeciles, and the former soldiers. When a winner is crowned in plate 4, Chairing the Members, the newly-elected official is paraded through the town by a blind fiddler. Loyal supporters are rewarded with perhaps the greatest bribe of all (beer) and the losing candidate is consoled by loved ones and a large meal. The two things missing from the series are binders full of women and big bird.
If Hogarth were alive today, he’d make a pretty decent SNL writer. His exhibition, which includes many social-political works like these, is on display now through June, 2, 2013. So when your PED starts to kick in, or you just need a good chuckle, stop by and visit.