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Pinting by numbers – a paean to the pub

3 July 2020

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories

Rakewell is delighted that many of his favourite museums will soon reopen. But, true-born Englishman that he is, his top priority this weekend is to get down the newly unbolted pub and sink a few shandies – or perhaps some of those nice bottles of Bass that appear, with their tell-tale triangles, in Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère.

The Bar at the Folies Bergère (1882), Édouard Manet

While preparing to observe the ‘ancient, inalienable right of free-born people of the United Kingdom to go the pub’ (Boris Johnson), your correspondent has been starting to salivate of paintings of the places. Even this gloomy old inn, the Plumber’s Arms in York, has had Rakewell’s arteries dancing in anticipation of his first packet of pork scratchings:

The Plumber’s Art, Skeldergate, York (1866), A. Hirst

This Victorian watering hole in Hampstead, meanwhile, has him yearning for the fruit machines and dartboards of north London:

‘The Yorkshire Grey’, Hampstead (c. 1863), artist unknown

But let it not be said that your correspondent endorses carousing to excess. With his Hogarthian moniker, Rakewell could hardly take leave from his thirsty readers without a warning of the dangers of drink. Stay off the heavy liquor, as Hogarth advised, and stick to the happy world of beer: ‘Beer, happy Produce of our Isle / Can sinewy Strength impart, / And wearied with Fatigue and Toil / Can chear each manly Heart [sic].’

Beer Street and Gin Lane (1751), William Hogarth

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.