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This painting is Hogarth's comment on his second visit to France in the summer of 1748, when he was arrested as a spy while sketching the arms of England on the old city gate at Calais. The contemporary diarist George Vertue records in August 1748 that Hogarth and Francis Hayman were 'attempting to draw some Views of Fortifications &c. were surprized & clapt into the Bastile. from whence they were soon glad to return to England' ('Vertue Note Books III', Walpole Society, vol.22, Oxford 1934, p.142). Hogarth took his revenge with this painting.
Further reading: Elizabeth Einberg, 'Hogarth the Painter', exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery, London 1997, pp.48–49, reproduced in colour Terry Riggs March 1998
Oil on canvas
H 78.8 x W 94.5 cm
Presented by the Duke of Westminster 1895