The Sleeping Congregation, 1736

Not on Viewexpand_more

Human weakness was an endless source of humor for Hogarth, and his pointed satires sought to draw lessons through full disclosure of people's failings. Here religion-a frequent target of caricature-takes a backseat to more basic needs; sleep and sex, not piety, captivate the faithful during Sunday services. A shortsighted old preacher clutches his magnifying glass as he delivers what is surely a long-winded and dull sermon. Meanwhile, the undignified congregants appear in different stages of slumber, and a portly clerk sneaks an amorous glance at the bosom of a young maiden who sleeps, her dream colored by her biblical reading "on matrimony."

Hogarth was a master storyteller, incisively capturing the characters and customs of his time in amusing narratives.

The Sleeping Congregation
Artist Life
Accession Number
[P. & D. Colnaghi, London, until 1958; sold, November 20, with "The Sleeping Congregation" (P.12,611), for £9, to Mia]
Catalogue Raisonne
Dob. 203 i/iv P.140 i/iv
Curator Approved

This record has been reviewed by our curatorial staff but may be incomplete. These records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

Does something look wrong with this image? Let us know

Zoom in on the left to the detail you'd like to save. Click 'Save detail' and wait until the image updates. Right click the image to 'save image as' or copy link, or click the image to open in a new tab.