The Gate of Calais William Hogarth Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Gate of Calais, which is as well known as O, the Roast Beef Old England is a painting done in 1748 by William Hogarth and replicated as a feature from a drawing the following year.

The scene portrays a side of beef that was being moved from the port to an English pub in the harbor, whereas a group of malnourished, tattered French soldiers along with an overweight friar hungrily look on. William painted himself somewhere in the left corner and with a "hands of soldier up on my shoulder." The Gate of Calais painting takes a point of view under an arch in the upper external wall of Calais. The panorama inside centers on a sirloin of beef that is intended for the English pub, and the Lion d'Argent. It is seen carried by a cook who is standing out in his dazzling white apron and a cap. These French soldiers, clothed in rags and forced to consume their diluted soup–maigre assemble around while licking their mouth.

Two soldiers are seen carrying the tasteless grey soup while a Franciscan friar who is also seen rubbing his finger greedily in the joint beef fat, is considered to be based on William's comrade John Pine. In the forefront, a highlander believed to be a deport from the 1745 Jacobite rising is seated wilting next to the wall, his might exhausted by the meager French fare, which is an uncooked onion and a bread crust. William is seen outlining to the left in the backdrop, although the halberd tip, as well as the soldier’s hand that will seize him, are just becoming visible in the corner at the back of him.

There are sturdy indications to the commemoration of the Eucharist in the image. Through the gates and under the symbol of a dove, there is a Roman Catholic mass that is being celebrated. This art was made using unique techniques and is of its own kind. At the forefront, but still lined up with those in the backdrop below the gate cross, the principal characters are seen worshiping the beef, and the man who carries it bends under the weight looks like he is offering it up to the friar on partly bended knee. On top of the landscape facing the gateway, the dove of the peace is restored by a carrion bird, which is the crow. In the forefront, fishwives irrationally adore the face of the ray while the Jacobite clutch his hands in prayer.