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Since its founding in 1962, the Friends of the Davison Art Center (FDAC) has been devoted to the growth and public enjoyment of the DAC collection through a wide variety of events for both its members and the greater community.  The primary mission of the FDAC is to expand and promote the Davison Art Center collection at Wesleyan University.  Learn more about the FDAC here.

Become a Friend

Please join the Friends!  As a member, you support the acquisition of new works for the DAC collection.  With a volunteer Board of Directors and minimal overhead expense, the FDAC directs a high percentage of its membership dues directly to its mission.  Wesleyan students can join the FDAC free of charge – click here to become a student member today!


Learn more about our benefit dinner and auction March 30, 2017 and buy tickets.


Inspired by the highly contested British General Election of 1754, William Hogarth painted four satirical scenes about political rallies, vote buying, and political celebrations. He also commissioned four engravings after the paintings. The Davison Art Center owns that full set. The second print, Canvassing for Votes, illustrates the long history of accusations of vote buying.

Set in a bucolic country town, Canvassing for Votes centers on a prosperous farmer, wearing a long coat and tricorn hat. On either side of him, two rival tavern hosts, representing the two rival political parties, try to win his vote. Each offers an invitation to dinner, while surreptitiously pouring coins into his hands. On the right is the “Royal Oak” inn, representing the Tory establishment, and in the distance, the “Crown” inn, representing the Whigs. The sign for the “Royal Oak”—hanging above the farmer’s head—recalls the previous century’s Civil War and depicts King Charles II, hiding in a tree after the battle of Worcester, while two supporters of Cromwell’s Parliament search for him below. Placed over the sign for the “Royal Oak” is a political banner labeled “PUNCH CANDIDATE for GUZZLEDOWN.” In the top half of the banner, money flows from the Treasury in London, and in the bottom half, the comic Punch throws coins from a wheelbarrow.

Throughout the print, Hogarth leaves satirical clues for the viewer to discover. At the right side of the image, two young women lean out of the window of the “Royal Oak,” while a portly politician tries to persuade them to use their influence. He offers to buy them trinkets from a Jewish peddler standing next to him. By the doorway at the right, the inn’s hostess sits counting money, as a soldier with the distinctive hat of the Grenadiers, leers at her. At the left side, a barber and a cobbler sit drinking and debating the Battle of Portobello, a British victory in 1739. In the distance, a Tory mob protesting taxes has gathered around the sign for the “Crown” inn, which is labeled “EXCISE OFFICE.” One man is sawing away at the beam supporting the sign, unaware that both he and the sign will fall at the same time.



Charles Grignon after William Hogarth, Canvassing for Votes, 1757. Second of four prints in the series The Election. Etching and engraving. Friends of the Davison Art Center funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. Albert Richards, 1962. Open Access Image from the Davison Art Center, Wesleyan University.


September 23 – December 11, 2016. Closed October 21-25 and November 22-27.

Opening reception and gallery talk: Thursday, September 22, 5:00 pm

Gallery talk by William Earle Williams, 5:30 pm, Davison Art Center Gallery

For the last three decades, William Earle Williams has traced the overlooked histories of African Americans, locating unmarked sites and photographing them with clarity and quiet elegance. This exhibition will include more than 60 photographs together with historic books, maps, newspapers, and manuscripts. Through both his research and his photographs, Williams tracks the history of African Americans from the first shipments of enslaved Africans to the many stops on the Underground Railroad, and from the battlefields of the Civil War to Emancipation. He summarizes his subject as “historical places in the New World from the Caribbean to North America where Americans black and white determined the meaning of freedom.” This moving exhibition reveals the power of photography to bring what has been willfully forgotten or erased back to our collective consciousness.

William Earle Williams is the Audrey A. and John L. Dusseau Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Fine Arts, and Curator of Photography at Haverford College, Pennsylvania. He received his MFA in photography from Yale University School of Art and holds a BA in history from Hamilton College. His photographs have been exhibited at the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Cleveland Museum of Art, and African American Museum in Philadelphia. Williams’s photographs are in many public collections including those of the National Gallery of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Baltimore Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, and Metropolitan Museum of Art. A 1997 Pew Fellow in the Arts, Williams was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for 2003–2004.

Support for this exhibition at Wesleyan University provided by the Center for African American Studies and the African American Studies Program, the Hoy Family Fund for Afro-American Art and the Lemberg Fund.

Photo Credit: William Earle Williams, Interior, Fort Morgan, Battle Site, Mobile Bay, Alabama, 2003, pigment print. © William Earle Williams.

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