The Company of Undertakers. Wm. Hogarth del Mezzotint. Cut down 31x25cm.
‘The Company of Undertakers’ by William Hogarth (1697-1764) is a comment on the large number of quacks in England during the 1700s. (Quacks sold medical treatments to a public desperate to try anything that claimed to cure illness and disease.) Three unorthodox practitioners who appeared regularly in the news sit above a group of professionally qualified doctors sniffing their pomanders, which are in the top of their walking sticks. From right to left they are: Joshua ‘Spot’ Ward (1684/5–1761), who sold a number of pills which may or may not have worked; Mrs Mapp (baptised 1706-1737), a bone setter who is carrying a symbol of her trade – a bone; and ‘Chevalier’ John Taylor (1702-1790), an ‘oculist’, or eye doctor, carrying an eye on a bone.