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In 1725, Hogarth began a number of engravings that would act as illustrations for a new edition of the seventeenth-century poet Samuel Butler's Hudibras. This was an epic poem in three parts that satirised seventeenth-century Puritans against the backdrop of the English Civil War. Burning Ye Rumps at Temple Bar is the eleventh plate of this series. The image refers to the protests against the 'rump parliament' by inhabitants of the Temple Bar area. The 'rump parliament' was originally created in December 1648, with the aim of removing those members of the Long Parliament who were in favour of a negotiation with Charles I. Thus, the term 'rump' referred to the remnants of the legitimate parliament.

The engraving is based on an historic event in which factions of the London populace poured into the streets in protest of the reinstatement of a 'rump parliament' that followed the death of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth, in 1659. Members of the mob roasted rumps of beef in the street, as they voiced their displeasure with the chant, "No More Rump." Hogarth's illustration, taking place on Butcher's Row, a street just north of the Strand that was lined with butchers' shops, is dominated by a tumultuous crowd. In the foreground, protestors carry a plum effigy of a Member of Parliament through the crowd, and layered behind are representations of members of the 'rump,' burning and hanging from the buildings, and the skyline is dotted with the heads of traitors fixed on spikes. Bonfires are scattered across the image, with rioters burning the rumps of meat that symbolised their dislike of the 'rump parliament,' and acted as an assertion of masculinity and plebeian anarchy. The bustling crowd scene is juxtaposed with the linear facades of the buildings. The rhythmic layering of these buildings ultimately leads the viewer's eye to the central landmark of the image, the arch of Temple Bar, which is apocryphal in this context, as construction did not begin on this structure until 1669. Even before the arch was erected, Temple Bar marked the barrier from the Western point of the City of London to Westminster and was representative of two different urban spaces. Traditionally, the monarch would stop at Temple Bar before entering the City to be greeted by the Lord Mayor, a ceremonial act that marked the symbolic union of monarch and city. Though the arch demarcates two contrasting spaces, these spaces are symbolically brought together through the crowd that has joined forces in protest of the 'rump parliament.'

-Francesca Mainman

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